“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” – Philippians 1:9-11
In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, there is clear evidence of his close relationship, love, and affection for the people. They, likewise, had mutual affection for him. Though he was in chains in a Roman prison, the people were in his heart. They were partakers with him of grace (v. 7). He longed for them with the affection of Christ (v.8). One of Paul’s interests for them was their spiritual maturity, their growth in grace, their growth in the knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as the fruit of that being evident in the church.
After telling the saints of his bound body, but unbound love to them in Christ, notice that Paul shared his prayer for them. What did Paul desire? First, that their love would abound more and more in knowledge and all discernment (v. 9). We will focus on this first point today. Now why did Paul pray that their love would grow in knowledge and discernment? If you take a moment and think about it, many of us don’t usually make this connection when thinking about growing in love. Why are knowledge and discernment in love important?
Paul taught them, and teaches us today, that love isn’t a blind love. In fact, love truly grows as it is grounded on and flowing from knowledge and discernment. In commenting on this verse, John Calvin said rightly, “For the true attainments of Christians are when they make progress in knowledge, and understanding, and afterwards in love… For, the greater proficiency we make in knowledge, so much the more ought our love to increase. The meaning in that case would be, “That your love may increase according to the measure of knowledge.” Strong passions, without knowledge, will not make us complete and may actually do more harm than good.
So, what knowledge is in view here? Paul is speaking about more than just head knowledge that comes from understanding propositional truth. He is absolutely talking about that, as well as also speaking about relational knowledge. Remember what Paul told the church in Rome regarding the Jews. They had zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2). This led them to violence and rage against Christ and His people (John 16:2-3). Christian belief comes to expression in Christian love. We must grow in our knowledge of God in His Word. We also must grow in our relationship with Him. We must love God because of his infinite excellence and loveliness, and love our brethren, as He calls us and works in us to have zeal to do so.
My sincere prayer is that you will abound more and more in love as you grow in your knowledge of the Lord and deepen your relationship with Him this week! I encourage you to:
- Feed on, be nourished and strengthened by His Word. Read it daily and sit under the preaching of it regularly and attentively.
- Also, as God has given prayer as a means of grace, be committed and diligent to spend time praying each day, praying that the Holy Spirit would apply the truths that you’ve read and heard to your heart and mind. Pray that the Spirit would be at work causing those truths to blossom and flourish in godly practice in your life. Pray also that He would be about the wonderful work of deepening your relationship with God.
- Finally, I encourage you to abound in love and express it, both to God and to your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Think about who you can connect with and how you can encourage them in love today. Then do it. Put those thoughts and plans into action.
May our God receive all the praise and glory! Stay tuned as we continue to study Paul’s prayer to Philippi in future devotions.
May you know the Lord’s peace and sustaining grace!