And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul writes to the church at Philippi that his prayer is for their love to abound still more and more. The Bible tells believers that the world will know us by our love for one another — and history often bears this out. Those who tell Christians that we should be more loving may have a point, but there is a catch that may not be readily apparent.
Paul’s prayer for the Philippian believers does not end with their love abounding still more and more, but gives scope to that abundance. That abundance of love is, he prays, to be in real knowledge and all discernment. The love in which Paul prays the believer abound is a love that makes things clear. The love of God is more than some sappy, sentimental hogwash; far more and better than a mere pandering to our self-interest and self-absorption. The love of God only really comes into focus as we realize the truth about ourselves. I only begin to grasp the love of God when I realize who and what I really am apart from Him and His grace, because it was apart from Him and His grace that He began to love me. Comprehension of God’s love must include an understanding of my utter helplessness to get into Heaven and inability to do anything righteous without His intervention. I must understand that I had made myself His enemy by my choices; that I had, by every action, proven myself to be rebellious and unprofitable to His kingdom. And it was in this state that He loved me. The knowledge and discernment that God’s love brings along are much more than this, but this is enough of a starting point.
Paul also gives the purpose of this abundance of love in real knowledge and discernment. The purpose is that the believer may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Love gives me the ability to know and to discern things so that I can approve excellence. Love allows me to discern inconsistencies in my life so that I might correct them and be sincere. Love allows me to know what God would have me do so that I might be blameless in God’s eyes and love also lets me know that I can come back to God and try again whenever I fail.
Love, as The Bible describes it, is not what people often mean when they tell believers that we should be more loving. But those people are correct. I do need to be more loving. I need to grow in love so that I can see things clearly and be able to walk as I should. And, what is more important, to be properly motivated. If I fully understand just how much God loves and at what point He so loved me, it must motivate me to love Him as best I am able.