Friday, February 12, 2021

2021.02.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:9–11

Read Philippians 1:9–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the apostle doing in Philippians 1:9? For whom? That what may abound? How much? In what two areas? How much discernment? What will these two enable them to approve (Philippians 1:10)? What two results would this have in the Philippians themselves? Until when? What would they be filled with (Philippians 1:11)? How do such fruits grow? Unto what? 

If the apostle’s love for them is an expression of the very love of Christ Himself (cf. Philippians 1:7-8), then we are not surprised that one of his hopes about the Lord’s ongoing work in them (cf. Philippians 1:6), is that their own love will increase. Surely, this is one of the reasons that he is writing to them. 

But, as he has acknowledged that it is ultimately the Lord’s work and the Lord’s love that must have the desired effect, he must first pray for them. If we are laboring but not praying, then we give the lie to the idea that we depend upon the Lord for the fruit of our work. We are commanded to do more than pray, but we dare not think that we are commanded to do less!

So he prays that their love will grow continually. “More and more.” Inactivity in the Christian life is always stagnating. We are in a constant battle (cf. Romans 7, 1 John 1, etc.), and if you aren’t actively standing or advancing, you will be passively (or actively) backsliding. He prays that their love will grow “more and more.”

And he prays that their love will grow definitively. “In knowledge and all discernment.” Christian love is not a nebulous and mushy thing, because Christ’s love is not a nebulous and mushy thing. He has defined everywhere in His Word the plans and purposes that demonstrate His love, ultimately and supremely the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He defines for us everywhere in His Word the commandments and principles that direct for us what it is to love God, to love one another, and to love neighbor (even enemy-neighbors!). Biblical love is defined. And the apostle’s prayer is that they would grow in understanding and application of every aspect of that definition. “ALL discernment” leaves no part of it out.

And he prays that their love will grow superlatively. There is an endpoint in view of their being “sincere and without offense” in the day of Christ. Another good translation is “pure and blameless.” This is what they have been elected for (cf. Ephesians 1:4), and this is what the apostle is confident of (cf. Philippians 1:6). If that is the aim at the end, then that is the aim throughout the process: “that you may approve the things that are excellent [best].”

So, he prays that their love will grow organically and doxologically. That is to say as fruit from Jesus Christ unto the praise of God in Jesus Christ. Just as the apostle must not only work, but here pray, because he knows that this is the way in which love grows; so also, when the prayers have been fully answered, and the work is fully done, the ultimate end is that all will see that it has come from Christ so that all can engage in the praise of God’s glory in Christ.

Let us pray—and work!—that our love would grow continually, definitively, superlatively, organically, and doxologically!

In what expressions must your love grow? How can you learn the answer to that? Who will make it happen?

Suggested songs: ARP51AB “God Be Merciful to Me” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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