The Key is Love

“…so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” - Philippians 1:10

Dear Friends, Again, we’re continuing on in Paul (and Timothy’s) letter to the Philippian Church, going verse-by-verse and I hope you’ll find this valuable. Picking up in verse 7, Paul had confessed his confidence that God will complete the good work that he began in them, and here he contends that part of the reason for his confidence, and for his concern for them, is that they have a special place in his heart. Paul’s time among the Philippians was important. He’d been called to cross the sea in a dream (Acts 16:6-10), and once there, he met Lydia, who was converted to faith in Jesus through Paul’s ministry. She opened her home to him and his companions and it just may be that the Philippian Church he’s writing to, is located there. They’ve partnered with him in the past, and he claims to have a longing for them, in the magnitude of Christ Jesus - which is pretty big! With all of this out of the way, he points to a prayer that he’s offering to God on their behalf. And it’s one thing to say “I’m praying for you” - but it’s an entirely different thing to say exactly what you’re praying for someone. To tell them requires an element of vulnerability. To tell someone you’re praying for something specific in their life, is to claim that you know they lack in some area. And it’s one thing if they’ve told you they have a need, but another thing entirely if they’ve never mentioned it. Paul knows the Philippians. And he knows something they need. Truth be told, we probably all need it: “your love may abound more and more…” That alone is significant. Paul prays for their love to grow. And I don’t get the impression it’s because they don’t love already. Paul’s love for them seems pretty clear. I expect it’s reciprocated. But there’s always room for more. There’s always room for the love in a community to grow and multiply and spill over and cover up “a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) The purpose of that growth in love though, as Paul puts it, is so that they would have “knowledge and depth of insight,” and I find that very interesting. Paul is positing that love and not facts are key components in discernment. He goes on to mention (above), that it’s so that they can discern what is best.” Imagine that. Love, being the key ingredient in understanding which road to take, which choice to make, which “final answer” to offer. That’s not how I often operate. I usually think practically, working through the benefits and drawbacks, running cost-benefit-analysis and trying to think of the big picture. But Paul claims that love should drive us to understand what’s best. Love. And that love then leads to the “fruit of righteousness.” It’s not the absence of doing the wrong thing, keeping yourself clean or away from those who are “bad” - it’s love. That’s the key both understanding what the next step is and to bearing the fruit of righteousness. If we want to do the right thing, if we want to figure out what the next step is, if we want to discover the correct answer… Paul is saying, no, Paul is praying, that our love would grow - more and more and more, to overflowing. Welcoming You to Grow - IN LOVE - in Jesus, Pastor Don

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