A Heartfelt Love

Real unity comes as we seek the good of others—even when we disagree with them.

Philippians 2:1-2

In today’s passage, Paul uses three different Greek words to describe love, which is essential to unity. In verse 1, he tells us that God’s gracious love brings Christians paramuthion (which means “comfort”—see NIV) and enables us to love one another. So, what kind of love do we have for one another?

Paul’s other two words can help us answer that. He first mentions splagchnon, which is translated as “affection.” This is the deep and abiding love that we direct toward God. Strong’s Concordance says that it comes from our “inward parts”—what the Bible calls the “heart.”

The last of Paul’s three words is oiktirmos (compassion); it speaks of the source of mercy and indicates a desire for another person’s good. Our model for this kind of love is God, who is “compassionate and merciful” (Exodus 34:6). In Him, we can love others as He does­—selflessly and generously—desiring the best for them despite our differences and disagreements.

Paul reminds the Philippians of their encouragement in Christ and the comfort they enjoy in God’s love. Because of all this, they—and we—can give love without fear and experience real unity. That’s what Paul says will “make [his] joy complete” (Phil. 2:2), and the same should be true of us.