And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11, ESV)
After several weeks on the shelf, we resume our walk through Philippians. Speaking of "walking", recent travels have given me an appreciation for a wide variety of walking styles. Having visited both Chicago and San Francisco on business this fall, I can heartily testify that walking in the city is much different than walking in the rural midwest. Given my bent towards a slower pace of life, perhaps a more fitting title for this series would be "ambling around Philippians", or "moseying in Philippians". In a tip of the hat to our Aussie readers, perhaps "walkabout Philippians"? I can appreciate the rapid pace of life in the big cities through a brief visit but I wouldn't trade my slower-moving life for a bajillion dollars. And with that, on to the text.
Paul seeks a three-fold blessing for the Philippians in his prayer. First, overoverover flowing love that continues to overflow more and more. We looked at this part of his prayer earlier in the series. The blessing of overflowing love is no small gift of God. How many blessings would arise out of the generosity of abundant love? They cannot be numbered. Surely this is the pinnacle of blessings, and they have their beloved friend Paul pleading their case before the Almighty. And yet...
Isn't it interesting that Paul pleads for more than love? He alloys overabundant, overflowing love with both knowledge and discernment. While love is the greatest virtue, it does not stand best by itself. Love needs the sound and sure footing of knowledge and discernment in order to stand strongly in the face of a wicked world. Due to the twisting of reality by sin even the highest form of love must be bolstered and supported.
In today's world it is common to think of love as simply an internal emotion, a warm feeling that you have inside. Sin has so twisted us that love is no longer seen as an outward-directed commitment to do good to others but rather it has been turned in upon itself, becoming the driving force fueling a quest for feelings and emotions experienced by and for our self. But this is not love. It is a sin-soaked lie. Feelings take wings and fly away. We are as fickle as the wind if our lives are founded on feelings. One minute we enthusiastically pursue a goal, focusing our entire life around it. The next minute it has become a curse to be replaced as quickly as possible with something that makes us feel better.
Paul is not seeking to bless the Philippians with a warm fuzzy feeling. He desires that they abound in and overflow with active love informed by real knowledge and full insight. In doing so, they will live blameless, holy lives that redound to the praise and glory of God. Love like this is action-packed, just as God's love for the world is. And it does not simply make good in the lives of the Philippians. They are able, through use of knowledge and judgment, to perform the greatest acts of love for their fellow man.
How fitting it is that Christians earnestly pursue active, abounding, overflowing love in accordance with knowledge and insight. In so doing, they earnestly demonstrate the infinite love of the Savior for a lost world. Dear brother and sister, here is real fuel for your prayer fire. It is a rich and precious vein of ore to return to time and time again on behalf of your brothers and sisters. Mine riches for the household of faith and ask God in Christ for His treble blessing of love, knowledge, and insight on their behalf.
How fitting indeed that the God who demonstrated infinite love would have us abound in love mixed wholly with understanding and wisdom. What great light shines daily in the kingdom of darkness that is this brokenness when we understand what our lives are to be about and know how to pursue it.