Friday, February 11, 2011

Gleanings in Philippians ~ Love Abounding: Phil 1.7-11 (Part III)

Over the two weeks we’ve looked at these five verses spanning the first two sections of Philippians. Paul is offering thanks for the love he shares with the Philippians because of their shared experience of the grace of the gospel. In the second part of this section Paul offers a seven-part prayer for the Philippians. We looked at the first three points of that prayer last week, first that they abound in love, then that they abound in knowledge, and then, thirdly, discernment.

Fourthly, he goes on to say that knowledge, that discretion, is going to be manifested in what you choose. He wants you to choose the excellent, so he’s praying that we would abound in love, grow in knowledge, increase in discernment, and, fourth, choose the excellent. He’s saying if you know true truth, if you have the knowledge of God, if you have the gift of discernment, that will lead your knowledge and discernment to choosing that which is excellent as opposed to that which is bad or that which is corrupt, choosing that which is eternal as opposed to that which is temporal and passing.

Paul is wanting knowledge to form in us discernment that leads to right choices—choosing the excellent.

This in turn leads to behavior, fifth, “to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.”
The choices that you make for that which is excellent are to living which is characterized by sincerity and integrity, so that you would be sincere and blameless until the Day of Christ.

Paul is talking about the cultivation of Christian sincerity and integrity in our behavior. Paul’s praying that there would be a moral unity in the life of the Philippians, that they would be outside what they are inside, that they would be at the home what they are in the world, that they would be sincere, and that they would walk with integrity. The world could look at them and say, not ‘you’re perfect,’ but there’s something about that person that could not be explained simply naturally. There’s evidence of a divine work of grace in that person. Paul had seen that in the Philippians, and so he prays that they would continue in sincerity and integrity.

Sixth, he goes on to pray that they would live in fruitful righteousness. Here Paul is praying for the production of fruit in the Christian life: that the result of the Spirit’s work of grace in their heart would be that they would bear fruit—much fruit—for God, through Jesus Christ.
Finally, seventh, he prays that they would live for God, live to God, live unto God, live before God, and that they would live for the glory of God.

So, seven things there. He prays that their love would abound, that their knowledge would grow, that their discernment would increase, that they would choose the excellent, that they would continue in sincerity and integrity, that they would live in fruitful righteousness, and that they would deliberately live for the glory of God.

Now. Let’s go back to my three questions to you last week. What do we learn about what we ought to desire for ourselves from this prayer? What do we learn about what we ought to rejoice for in one another? And, what do we learn about how we ought to be praying for one another?

It ought to be our personal desire to be Christians like this: growing in love, increasing in knowledge and discernment, choosing that which is excellent, living in sincerity and integrity, manifesting a fruitful righteousness, living for the glory of God. As Paul prays this for the Philippians, our hearts ought to be saying, “Lord, I want to be like that. That’s what I want to be like.”

Secondly, as we look at this prayer we ought to be saying to ourselves, “You know, what is it when I look at another person that I get excited about? What are the things that encourage me, interest me, as I look at another person. What are the things that catch my attention? Is it that person’s success? Is it that person’s social connections? Is it that person’s wealth or possessions? Is it that person’s background or family?” Or, as we look at one another, are the things that attract our attention and actually cause us to rejoice things like love, increasing in the knowledge of the truth, discernment, choosing that which is excellent, sincerity, integrity, fruitfulness in righteousness, and living for the glory of God?

Paul is looking over the Philippians and he’s seeing these characteristics in them, and he rejoices when he sees these kinds of grace-wrought moral characteristics in these Philippians because he knows that these things can only exist in them because God is at work, he says it point blank in verse 11: all these things come through Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can build a person like that.

But are these the things that we rejoice in? One of the ways that we can be an encouragement to one another is rejoicing in one another when these things are seen by us. We ought to be rejoicing in these things in one another.

And then finally, we need to be praying these things for one another. If Paul is praying these for the Philippians, surely we Christians need to be praying this prayer for one another: that we would abound in love and grow in knowledge, and increase in discernment, and choose what is excellent, and continue in integrity and sincerity, and live in fruitful righteousness, and live for the glory of God. May God make it so.

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