I’ve been reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians every day for a couple weeks now. It has been good for me. I’ve paid attention to things I had not noticed before. I’ve thought deeper about the ideas I thought I knew about. This morning, this verse asked for my attention:
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” Phil. 1:9
We think of love as an emotional thing, not a logical thing…and that is our big mistake. Often, true love (agape love…God’s love…the love which gives without looking for anything in return) demands the hard choices and denial of self. This requires a reasoning mind, a principled mind, to be engaged.
Here Paul is saying that love in its fulness is educated. Not with degrees and diplomas necessarily (for some of the most godly people I’ve ever known did not have a college degree)…but with knowledge of Him. Deliberate study of God.
In this same letter, Paul says he has this aspiration:
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” Phil. 3:10
When we love someone, we find joy in researching that person, finding out all about them. Should this not be most true in our relationship with the God who bought us, the Savior who is the “lover of my soul“? What does this look like? Here is what Bible commentator Matthew Henry has to say:
He prayed, 1. That they might be a loving people, and that good affections might abound among them; That your love might abound yet more and more. He means it of their love to God, and one another, and all men. Love is the fulfilling both of the law and of the gospel. Observe, Those who abound much in any grace have still need to abound more and more, because there is still something wanting in it and we are imperfect in our best attainments. 2. That they might be a knowing and judicious people: that love might abound in knowledge and in all judgment. It is not a blind love that will recommend us to God, but a love grounded upon knowledge and judgment. We must love God because of his infinite excellence and loveliness, and love our brethren because of what we see of the image of God upon them. Strong passions, without knowledge and a settled judgment, will not make us complete in the will of God, and sometimes do more hurt than good. The Jews had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, and were transported by it to violence and rage, Rom. 10:2 ; Jn. 16:2 . That they might be a discerning people. This would be the effect of their knowledge and judgment: That you may approve the things which are excellent (v. 10)
This, I think, is one of the things which causes people to fall away from the church. There is not this discerning love. There is “luv”…the desire, the seeking of emotional froth which has no depth. This type of sensational heart-hype has no sticking power. When its affections or hopes are disappointed or offended, it fizzles. When it is not constantly coddled, it pouts. It cowers in a corner when hard things are required of it. It shakes its hanging head in despair when all is not to its liking. It does not see the “glass” as half-empty…it doubts the existence of a glass at all. When it does not experience “warm fuzzies”, it seeks some sort of immediately gratifying “spiritual experience”…no matter how shallow.
Let’s have the love which chooses. The love which stands. The love which rests. The love which has depth. The love which makes discerning decisions based upon truth, and whose lips will have that truth ready, and will speak that truth in love.
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18