“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
Paul loved the Lord and loved His people. They were on his heart and on his mind, even as he was in chains in Rome. Paul’s focus, his zeal was their well being, especially their spiritual growth as individuals, as a body. Last week, we began our consideration of Paul’s prayer for the saints in Philippi. His desire was that their love would abound more and more in knowledge and all discernment. The connection between how love grows in relation to knowledge is important to understand. We should be praying that our love would increase according to the measure of knowledge.
Paul’s prayer was that they would be a discerning people. Knowledge and discernment go hand in hand. Knowledge and wisdom are essential for true discernment to take place. The Philippians needed, and we need to have our senses exercised and discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).
What is the effect of love abounding in knowledge and discernment? The approval of things that are excellent, Paul said. This is so wonderful! How does one approve these things? Knowledge and discernment help us approve the things that are excellent through the trial, or testing, of them. We evaluate them through the lens of Scripture. Such trial helps us determine what is empty and sinful, and what is excellent.
What are excellent things? Consider our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the definition of excellence and perfection in every way (2 Peter 1:3). Consider His truth and law declared in His Word. Scripture is excellent because is without error (Psalm 18:30). Consider the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy things (Philippians 4:8-9). Our list could go on, but these are all excellent things we should wholeheartedly approve!
Beloved, it’s all too easy to torture our minds with empty or sinful things, instead of approving the excellent, isn’t it? Sometimes we’re lazy and fail to try things as we should. Sometimes we don’t even recognize the sinful things we’ve allowed to take mental real estate in our minds and be in practice in our lives. As you grow in love grounded in knowledge, I encourage you to prayerfully examine yourself this week, asking God to bring the things that aren’t excellent to mind, help you test and deal with them, and fill your mind and life with Christ and the things that are.