Philippians 1:9-11 ESV
“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.”
I don’t think I have ever looked up the word “prayer” before, but I felt impressed to do that today. In the Greek Interlinear I read that prayer is literally “to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith (divine persuasion).” So, “prayer is closely inter-connected with faith in the New Testament.”
[Ac 6:5,6; Ac 14:22,23; Eph 6:16-18; Col 1:3,4; 2 Thes 3:1,2; Js 5:13-15]
I like that definition. It makes sense. Prayer is not making a wish list for ourselves. It is not like writing a letter to Santa Claus with a list of all the things (toys, gadgets) we want for ourselves. And God is not a genie in the sky there to grant our every request (desire), either. Prayer has to involve seeking out God’s will and his purposes and yielding to his will, too.
And this is evidenced by what Paul prayed for. He didn’t pray, “Lord ‘gimme’ this and ‘gimme’ that.” He prayed unselfishly for the needs of others and according to the will of God. And he prayed in faith with the divine persuasion granted to him by the Lord. So, I pray that my prayers would reflect that, too, trading my desires for His with the faith he gives me.
The word translated as “love” is “agape” in the Greek, and it centers in moral preference. It means to prefer what God prefers. It is preferring to live through Christ, embracing God’s will, choosing his choices, and obeying them through his power. It means actively doing what the Lord prefers by his power and direction. And what God prefers is morally pure, honest, faithful, trustworthy, upright, holy, godly, righteous, and unselfish.
And Paul’s prayer was that our love (agape) may abound, i.e., be over and above the ordinary, exceed the necessary, that it may go beyond the expected measure. And he prayed that our love (agape) may abound more and more, i.e., that it may be ever increasing in measure.
Now, he prayed that our love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. And this knowledge is not head knowledge only nor is it books smart, but it is knowledge gained through experience. And it involves perception, discernment, and intuition, so it is wisdom. So, this involves putting this agape love into practice in our daily lives in increasing measure.
And discernment involves discretion, judgment, perception, sizing things up, exercising good sense and good judgment. It is not jumping into situations with no forethought at all. It is taking the time and the effort to prayerfully consider a situation and what is going on, and it involves making wise and morally founded decisions.
For example, we can be people who are compassionate and caring who love others, but that love must be coupled with wisdom and discernment. Like for example if you are on social media, you will have many people who will give you “sob stories” of some kind to gain your sympathy hoping you will send them money. But they could be con artists, so you have to pray for wisdom.
Or someone might invite you into a situation which on the surface appears innocent and legitimate, but it could end up being a compromising situation. So, when loving other people with agape love we need to not just go with our emotions, but we need to stop, look, and listen. For we could be walking into a trap. Sad to say, but con artists and manipulators also “abound.”
Pure and Blameless
Exactly! Our love (agape) needs to abound more and more with knowledge (gained through experience) and all discernment (wisdom, discretion). And this is so we may approve what is excellent and so be pure and blameless, i.e., so that we do not fall prey to deception or to seduction or to a compromising situation because we didn’t exercise good judgment.
We need to be those who are able to distinguish between lies and truth, and between sincerity and manipulation. And this is so that we can remain unmixed with the world, uncontaminated by fleshly passions and desires, and so we maintain living morally upright and godly lives. And this is so that we don’t stumble and fall back into sin.
For, we can have genuine love and concern for others but if we do not couple it with wisdom and discernment, although we may be well meaning initially, it could lead to disaster if we don’t use good judgment, and if we don’t prayerfully consider what is the right thing to do and pray for wisdom and discernment to take the right steps. And when we pray, the Lord will let us know if we are walking into a trap or into a situation that might put us in a bad way, if we will listen to him. And then we must obey him.
We have to think about how Satan works. He is going to try to get at us through situations which may appear innocent on the surface, so he will throw something out there to lure us into a trap, but it will be something that will appear innocent or legitimate, and he knows who of us has soft hearts and who of us are compassionate people, and he will use that to his advantage.
So, we have to be aware that not everything is as it appears, and not everyone is who he says he is, either. There are many liars and deceivers out there, con artists, manipulators, and tricksters who will use all kinds of means to get God-fearing Christians to walk into their traps. So, yes, be loving, but couple your love with God-given wisdom and judgment.
And this way you will remain on solid ground, and you will remain unmixed with the world and uncompromised and uncontaminated by fleshly passions and desires as you continue to say “NO!” daily to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and as you continue to live godly, upright, and self-controlled lives for the glory of God while you wait for our Lord’s return.
For, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to die with Christ to sin daily and live to Christ and to his righteousness. And righteousness is what is right in the sight of God, so it is all that is morally pure, honest, obedient, submissive, humble, God-fearing, and unmixed with the world of sin.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; 1 Pet 2:9; Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20]
Draw Me Close To You
Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend
You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace
Help me find a way
Bring me back to You
Bring me back, oh Jesus
You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near
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