Tuesday, 6 December 2016
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, Philippians 1:9
This verse ties back to verses 3 & 4. There, he said –
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy…”
Since then, he has stated some things which were included in his prayers for them, and then he has built upon what he said. Now he returns to more specific items which concerned them in his prayers. It is well worthy of consideration that he has not mentioned earthly, physical things here. Despite the poverty of the Macedonian churches, which includes Philippi, he doesn’t ask for the windows of heaven to open up and drop money on their heads. Instead, his prayers are for spiritual things. How different that is from the “name it and claim it” false teachers of the world!
Specifically here, he prays “that your love may abound still more and more.” Paul is certainly thinking of all aspects of love from a Christian perspective. This would include love of God, love of His word, love of fellow Christians, and love of those not yet in the faith, but who were created in God’s image and in need of Christ’s saving grace. These things are certain because he continues on. This love should grow “in knowledge and all discernment.”
The word for “knowledge” here is more than just the knowledge of something, but a fully complete knowledge of it. In other words, I may know about the newest phone on the market, but I may not know the details of it. Likewise, I may know about God, and I may even have a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus, but I may still be weak and uninformed in sound theology. Paul would ask for us to grow into a complete knowledge of how He has revealed Himself to us. This can only be done through His general and specific revelations of Himself.
The general revelation is what we can deduce about Him from His creation. The special revelation is how he has specifically revealed Himself apart from creation – such as in the words of the prophets and apostles. These things are now recorded in His word. We are to love this word and to desire to learn it more and more. In so doing, we will gain that knowledge and discernment Paul has mentioned.
We will know about the true God, and know about false presentations of Him. We will learn about true and faithful believers, and we will be able to discern those who are false. We will know how to properly explain to the unsaved about the message of Christ as well.
As you can see, the knowledge and discernment are tied up in the abounding of our love. If we fail to grow in these things, our love will be misdirected. Paul will continue with his specific prayer list, and how it is related to this love he speaks of in the verses ahead.
Life application: Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Which commandments are being referred to? Are we to keep the commandments which He fulfilled on our behalf in the Law of Moses? If so, then why did He fulfill them for us? How can we be loving of what God has done for us if we continue to try to merit His favor above and beyond what Christ has done? In order to love God, we are to trust Him and His provision, not attempt to outdo Him. How do we grow in the love that the Bible speaks of? By knowing and discerning His word, in context, and as He has revealed it to us.
Lord God, it sure is good to know that Christ fulfilled the law for us. It stood opposed to us, and it brought death, not life. But through His fulfillment of it, which included His atoning death, we are now set on a new and bright path of hope. Help us to trust in the finished work of Christ, and to never set aside Your grace, offered through His perfect work and shed blood. Surely with this, you are most pleased of all. Thank You for Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen.