We find a beautiful prayer Paul prayed for the church in his epistle to the Philippians. It is found in the first chapter, verses 9 to 11.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God (Php 1:9-11).”
There is a proper balance in this prayer. Paul did not only ask that their love may abound more and more, but that their love is informed by knowledge and discernment. It is important that the church has a balance of all three.
Love is central to the faith of Christ. The greatest commandment involves love for God, our brethren and our fellow man (Mar 12:30-31; John 13:34-35). Without love, everything else we do is pointless (1Co 13:1-3). So it is right that the love of the church must abound, that is, to overflow.
But just having love is never enough. The apostle’s prayer is not only that the church will abound in love. “…that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge…” Love is not ignorant; it must be balanced with sound knowledge. What happens when people seek love without knowledge? Anything goes as long as the feelings of love are strong or sincere.
The most common excuse for immorality is because people are ‘in love’. A husband abandons his wife and children for another woman because he is ‘in love’ with her. Two unmarried persons commit the sin of fornication because they are ‘in love’. Two persons of the same gender are in an abominable relationship because they are ‘in love’.
With knowledge comes responsibility. When men want love without responsibility, it can lead to all sorts of errors.
The church should have an increasing knowledge of our Saviour. Our love is based on God. The church ought to ‘grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2Pe 3:18).’ Where can we find this knowledge? Only in the inspired Scriptures.
“Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work (2Ti 3:16-17).”
“…that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” Judgment means discernment, the ability to tell right from wrong, good from bad; to make decisions wisely.
One may increase in knowledge by reading or study but it does not necessarily mean one has discernment. The difference lies in having only head knowledge and actually applying what you know.
Although we may have knowledge without discernment, we cannot have discernment without sound knowledge. Sound discernment is built on sound knowledge. Discernment is cultivated through consistent application of sound knowledge.
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb 5:13-14).”
Why We Need a Balanced Love
With our love informed by knowledge and discernment, we have balance and ‘may approve things that are excellent (v. 10).’ ‘Approve’ means to ‘recognise as genuine after careful examination.’ We need all three in balance to be able to test and know what would really be pleasing to God in any given situation.
With that, we ‘may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.’ Sincere’ means pure and unstained when examined. The picture here is of a person holding up an object to the light to check for flaws and finding none. The day of Christ is coming and we should be ready for it, doing our utmost to be found ‘unspotted from the world (Jas 1:27).’
Saints of God strive to be ‘filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God (v. 11).’ People of the world should be able to see from our godly example what the power of the gospel can do to change lives.
Our Lord says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mat 5:16).”
May we overflow with love balanced by the knowledge of Christ and sound discernment, that we may be ready for His return and be found holy and acceptable.