12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence (Philippians 2).
Paul believed that these Philippians were even more eager to “obey” his teachings when he was not with them, than when he was. No wonder he considered them “beloved” people — his beloved. To him it was confirmation that these believers were truly followers of Jesus Christ, and not just followers of him. They were the beloved of God even before they were his beloved — they were beloved Beloved.
This is a supreme test among those who are in the ministry: that they look for their folks foremost to be followers of Christ, and then (and only then), followers of them. That they obey their pastor’s teachings — only because they see them as really the teachings of Christ through His Word. Nothing should make a pastor more proud of his people than seeing their primary devotion being to Christ. And thus, along with John the Baptist, such ministers of the gospel say: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Lord, we thank You that we are all first Your beloved. Help us This Day to keep this focus. As a pastor, I also thank You for these beloved saints at St. John’s Baptist Church, with whom I have the privilege to minister. Amen.