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…
We are creeping back into face to face connections with one another as slowly as it may be. The more I interact with people the more I am convinced that there is an abundance of stress on people and everyone is finding different ways to handle it. It is easy to become reactive and to focus on things we cannot control. I was thinking about Paul’s words, more specifically his prayer to the Philippians, and thought this would be a good platform to pray for people this week:
Paul prayed their love would abound more and more. One of the ominous statements from Matthew is that when lawlessness increases most people’s love will grow cold. It is easy to lose our heart in the disquieting events that surround our lives. Trials and hardships are one thing, but when we start trying to interpret the motives of people that ought to be trying to “fix” things, then it is easy to be disillusioned and unsettled about who is calling the shots. It is easy for conversations to turn to our freedoms and rights rather than how should we now live. Those discussions certainly can have a place, but there is always the chance that we lose our own heart in the journey. We can become so distracted and frustrated with what is going on around us that it stuns our love relationship with Christ.
Love plus knowledge and discernment equals wisdom. This is not about our ingenuity or creativity; it is about God’s truth. Our love for God ought to give us a compelling reason to implicitly trust his truth. We ought to instinctively desire to know Him and long to hear how God wants us to live. In the same vein, we ought to always be hesitant to trust our own common sense and creative solutions to life. The best reality check is to see life through the eyes of Christ, otherwise we can never be objective from our own perspective of the world. It is impossible to live with true knowledge and discernment unless our ideas are anchored firmly in God’s truth. Remember the great statement of Psalm 1:1-2:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
The believer in Christ delights in God’s Word. How do we gain knowledge of how God wants us to live and discernment as to what kind of life truly honors God? Only when we have a deep passion for His Word with an understanding that this is the only way to approve that which is ultimately best. It begs the question as to how much we mediate on God’s Word. The “blessed” person has a deep yearning for God’s Word because it is the revealed will of God and it is our life.
The believer is to approve what is excellent. The world “excellent” literally means that which has considerable value because of its unique characteristics. Even If we only include the rest of verse 10, we get greater clarity of the things that are of ultimate value:
“… 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.” (Phil. 1:10)
The things that are truly excellent or of ultimate value are being blameless when we stand before Christ. Our lives need to be filled with righteousness and we need to live in such a manner so as to glorify and praise God himself.
In our Covid world, our habits, routines, and schedules have been roughly disrupted. We can spend all day debating the politics, freedoms, rights, entitlements and on and on. But in the midst of all the things that we cannot control I hope that you will submit to those things that God can bring forth from your life and mine regardless of the circumstances.