“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.”
These passages in Philippians has a deep focus on abounding love, but it does not stop there. Paul is encouraging the Philippian church, saying that his prayer is that love may abound more and more, then he says “with” knowledge and all discernment.
Love is central to a relationship with God. Jesus said that the most significant commands on which all the Law and Prophets depend are to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40). This is a central characteristic of being a Christian.
This passage in Philippians 1:9-11 brings a balanced understanding of the foundation and outworking of Christian living. To abound in this love, it has a pre-requisite. This pre-requisite is “with knowledge and understanding“.
Many times when Christians use the word “love”, it is often used generically. Christians and even unbelievers will refer to the word “love” to prescribe to believers how they should act to those within the church and the world. They will often say, “didn’t Jesus say love” to prompt Christians to be acceptive to the ways of this world.
Through these passages, the Apostle Paul clarifies what this love should look like—abounding love with knowledge and understanding. We should never assume knowledge is the enemy of love; instead, it is necessary for true love. For example, in a marriage, a husband’s or wife’s love for one another deepens when they deepen in the knowledge of one another.
Likewise, our love for God increases more and more as we understand Him more, as revealed in the Bible through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. As we read the Bible, we know more of God’s attributes, that He is holy, righteous, just, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. We see His love for us displayed through His sacrificial death on the cross so that we can have a relationship with Him.
This knowledge also enables us to love our neighbour as God has commandments us to do so. According to the world, love is an emotion that is acceptive of all acts as long as it makes you happy. In comparison, the Bible presents love as an intentional act that can be described, applied and evaluated. This love is different from the one the world defines as represented in social media, movies, advertisements, etc.
To love, as the Bible instructs, we need “knowledge and discernment”. Knowledge through what the Bible teaches us about God. The more we know about God, His nature, and His character, the more we will understand what real love looks like, especially as revealed in Jesus Christ. Amen! 1 John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
On the other hand, discernment is required because the love taught in the Bible is holy and based on truth, and we cannot truly love if we do not have discernment. Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Discern what is good and evil through constant practice and the word of God.
When you love with biblical love with knowledge and discernment, then you realise that love is self-sacrificial, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Take time to read through scriptures that talk about love. The Bible teaches us:
- to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27-36)
- that if you love God, then you will keep His commandments (John 14:15)
- that whoever hates their brother but claims to love God whom they cannot see is a liar (1 John 4:20)
- that greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
- and many other scriptures.
When you do this, and your love abounds more and more, then the results are given in Philippians 1:10-11 saying, “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.”
By abounding in love more and more in knowledge and discernment, it results in you approving what is excellent and being pure and blameless for the day of Christ in which all believers must stand before the Lord and give an account of their deeds (1 Corinthians 5:10). It results in the fruit of righteousness, which means a transformed life. This fruit is not a mere measurement of outward appearances and your conformity to the law; instead, it is a spiritual fruit that comes from Jesus Christ, produced by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).
In closing, I pray that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and discernment so that you may approve what is excellent, and 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).