Your deepest, truest identity is not rooted in what you do or how you love others—it’s rooted in what Christ has done and how He loves you. You are God’s beloved.
Today’s Text: “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved” (Philippians 4:1, ESV).
“Beloved.” It’s one of God’s favorite names for you.
You are the “agapetos” – the recipients of “agape,” God’s unconditional, relentless love.
To be beloved is to receive an identity that is rooted in God, not yourself. It means that it is who you are, whether you know it or not. The prodigal son was beloved; he just didn’t know it. To be identified as “beloved” means that you are not defined by what you are doing but by what someone else is doing.
Interestingly, Paul often uses the term in connection with an exhortation:
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves…” (Rom 12:19).
“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Cor 4:14).
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor 10:14).
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…” (1 Cor 15:58).
“…beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit…” (2 Cor 7:1).
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1).
I think it’s Paul’s way of saying, I’m giving you some important instructions, but your obedience to this instruction doesn’t define you; your identity is already sure – you are the beloved. So, be obedient not in order to be loved, but because you are so loved.
We are prone to get this exactly backwards. We are trained to think, If I’m obedient and productive, I’ll be beloved. But the Gospel inverts the norm of shame by declaring, You are beloved, therefore, live obediently. Whether you feel like it or even believe it, you are God’s beloved. And that’s the Gospel!