Wednesday, 7 December 2016
…that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, Philippians 1:10
For a clearer picture of what is being conveyed, this should be taken together with the preceding verse –
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…”
The abounding of love “in knowledge and all discernment” is so that the believer “may approve the things that are excellent.” It is with a view to testing and trying through the knowledge and discernment we possess, that we will then approve and hold fast to that which is excellent. The word for “approve” is one which gives the idea of testing metals for their purity. This is how we are to look for that which is excellent – testing that which is good, and then testing that which is even better. We are to compare all things in order to hold fast to the very highest purity of doctrine and conduct. Jamieson-Faucett-Brown says, “Ask as to things, not merely, ‘Is there no harm, but is there any good, and which is the best?’”
In so doing, we will “be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” The word translated as “sincere” here is a rare one, found only here and in 2 Peter 3:1. It is eilikrinés, and it is evident from the two words that it comes from what it means. The first part comes from heilé, the sun’s ray, and the second half comes from krinó, to judge. And so, it means “that which is judged in sunshine,” and thus, “that which is clear and fully viewable.” There are no clouds to obscure the sun’s rays, there are no trees in the way to darken the view. Rather, there is only brightness which allows us first to rightly discern, and then to fully shine forth without hiding anything. Translating this word as “sincere” is appropriate because “sincere” comes from the root meaning of “without wax.” It is reflective of honey which is pure and perfectly clear.
This is what we are to be. There should be no hint of unsound doctrine in our lives, and there should be only the most noble of conduct in how we act. In this, we will then also be “without offense.” When something is hidden and later exposed, offense will result. When doctrine is tainted and impure, offense will result. These things should not be at any time in our lives, even “till the day of Christ.” From the moment we come to Christ, until the day He comes for us, we are to continuously search out and test all things, approving only that which is excellent, and then applying it to our life and doctrine.
Life application: One cannot fulfill the exhortation in this verse if they do not seek out the directions for it to come about from the pages of Scripture. Do we think that we can walk perfectly apart from what God expects of us? Read your Bible!
Lord God, Your word exhorts us to seek out what is good, to test it, and to only apply to our life, our conduct, and our doctrine that which is the most excellent of all. Our lives should be so beautifully in line with Your will, that we can be judged by others in the full light of the sun. And when they inspect us, we should be a pure as the purest of honey which has no wax at all. Instead, when we are looked at, the purity that we possess should be as the sweetest of all of the bees’ labors – pleasing and delightful to those around us, and especially to You. Help us to be this way. To Your glory we pray. Amen.