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April 21, 2022 12:01 am
Even within the church, cultivating love for one another can sometimes be a challenge. Today, Steven Lawson identifies five characteristics of the love that Christians are called to have for each other for the good of the church and the glory of God.
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In Philippians chapter 1, Paul encourages the people to love others with knowledge and discernment. What does he mean by that. It's a practical understanding of people and situations, and to know how to step in and to meet the need. In other words, how to love real people with real needs in real situations. Stay with us Renewing Your Mind is next visit the Christian life isn't always easy to do things that don't come natural to us to love the challenging coworker, a contentious neighbor, even our enemies. Let's keep in mind that Paul was praying that our love would abound more and more, even as he was trained and imprisoned what you take your Bible again and turn with me to the book of Philippians chapter 1 and in this session we can be looking at verses nine through 11 and this is really the aim of Paul's prayer for the Philippians. This is that for which he prays for them to this point he has told him how much he loves them there in his heart there in his mind how much joy he has praying for them. But now he will explain to them what he is praying for them.
So I want to read this at these three verses 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, we learn much about prayer as we observe the apostle Paul in his praying for the Philippians, Paul is modeling for us how to pray and we we see him praying for that which is most important in the lives of the Philippians, and that is that their love may abound yet more and more in one sense, we can pray for anything. All things in another sense, we need to prioritize.
Praying for those things that are of most importance, and I feel sometimes we are praying for things that are of far lesser importance.
We need to prioritize our prayers towards that which is most important, and that would certainly be the pray that love would abound in those who are the object of our prayers.
What why is love so important will first of all, love fulfills the greatest commandment, which is the love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength in us. The second is like it that you love your neighbor as yourself. So love is escalated to the highest priority. Second is the fruit of the spirit. This, the fruit of the Spirit is love is number one on the list. It is that which the Holy Spirit is producing in believers. And third, it's the most important virtue. Paul will say in first Corinthians 1313 that love, hope and faith abide but the greatest of these is love. So why would we not pray for that which is the greatest of all of these and essentially essential for any ministry. First Corinthians 13 I speak with the tongue of angels, but have not love a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. And it is also important because love is the driving force behind all of our obedience. Jesus said if you love me you will keep my commandments. John 1415, so Paul is praying for that which is of utmost importance in the lives of the Philippians and again there's nothing wrong with praying for matters of lesser importance, but never at the expense of praying for that which is of most importance, so this prayer for love was most appropriate and because there were factions and divisions that had developed in the church at Philippi and they greatly needed more love. So this isn't just a broad generic requests that has no specific application in the church at Philippi. No, Paul is putting his finger on the live nerve of what is needed in the church at Philippi because there in the midst of a the church that is in relational stress and conflict. As you recall, we talked last time that there were two prominent women in the church EOD and sent to key who were at odds with one another. They probably weren't even speaking to one another, which meant those two husbands were not.
Which meant children were not, which may have meant circles of extended family were sitting on the opposite sides of the church when they would gather and then circles of friends. This was a church that needed Christian love to be demonstrated in their relationships with one another. So this wasn't just a sentimental devotional thought that Paul is tossing out.
No, instead he is hitting the target right in the middle of what is needed in the church at Philippi and I would have to say it's needed in all of our lives him and who among us can say will I love to the ants degree and there is no more room for growth for me to love people know it if you're breathing you need to love more.
I need to love more. We need to learn to be kinder and to be more patient with one another to learn to be more long-suffering with one another to learn not to take into account a wrong suffered, we we need to learn how to hope all things believe all things bear all things with one another. So what Paul is praying for the Philippians is really what we need to pray for ourselves is what we need to pray for our own family. What we need to pray for our church family as well.
Nothing could be more relevant and more practical than to pray for greater love among the brethren.
So let's walk through these verses.
Verses nine through 11 and it just really one long sentence that that has many different component parts to it, but it all revolves around the subject of love. So what you note. First, the priority of love, beginning in verse nine, Paul says, and this I pray that this word for prayer is an intense word for prayer. It's a compound word. The main root word means to pray, but there is a prefix added at the beginning, which means face-to-face if used in John one verse one in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God face-to-face with God the living word Jesus Christ with God the father and so what this prayer is word for prayer is really getting face-to-face with God that really coming before the throne of grace and if you will, drawing as close to God as he possibly could. In prayer it. It's concentrated focus earnestly in prayer and this I pray that your love may abound still more and more is word love is the word that were familiar with agape referring to that which sacrificially gives of itself to seek the highest good and another John 316 God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that this love considers the interests of others is more important than your own, and this love this agape love looks away from self to others, and how you can not be served but to serve and to give your life for the good of others. This is what Paul is praying for here now you know there's no object he disses. I pray that your love may abound still more and more. He doesn't say love for what certainly would be love for God certainly love for Christ.
Certainly love for Scripture, but in this context I think it would be obvious to say that it's love for other brothers and sisters in Christ there is no poem saying this is to live up above with those that we love that will be glory, but to live down below with those that we know that's another story and that can be challenging, even in the church to to dwell down below with those that we know with love and that requires prayer and requires the work of the Holy Spirit within us and he says I'm praying that your love may abound say that word. I did this word in the in the original language means to overflow with abundance it means to exceed the norm. It means to exceed the standard and the picture would be of a river just overflowing its banks. Paul is saying I am praying that your love will go to the next level that your love will be so much greater for your brothers and sisters in Christ and then he adds these four words still more and more so is already praying at their level abound.
But that's not even enough. I'm praying that your love will not only abound but still more and more that that your love will be exponentially multiplied to be ever and always increasing, and so this indicates that the Philippians to some extent were already loving one another but it wasn't enough they needed to abound.
Still yet, more and more in their love. Paul knew that they needed to grow in this and I would dare say, in fact I'm certain that I need to grow in my love more and more my wife says to me sometimes II can tell when you want to talk to someone and I can tell when you're kind of impatient and sad to say, I'm sure that's true, and is probably true of all of us and the challenge for us where we really need the Lord in our lives is to help us extend ourselves more and more to people who might be a challenge to love so you need to think about your life, you need to think about your walk with the Lord. How easy it is to spend time in the church with those people who were you have so many common interests and there's not a personality conflict and you're just all on the same page, emotionally and spiritually.
But then there are those people that maybe the somewhat awkward, even socially and hard to get close to the give you backhanded compliments. Those are the people that God would have us to have our heart enlarged for and to love them because we were far worse than that. And God chose to love us blissfully second now to the prerequisite of love within the priority of love. That's what Paul's praying for now, the prerequisite because love must be properly directed, we must know how to love and so he says next in real love and all discernment, real love here at ESV has it is just a real knowledge.
ESV has it just knowledge again is a compound word and the word for knowledge has a prefix in front of it and the idea is a deep experiential love, not just to know about someone, but to really have real knowledge in how do I reach out to them. How may I serve them.
How may I meet needs in their life. Hi, I need to have real knowledge to know how that not just to throw something at the back of the walls if it sticks in my relationship with them, but to be able to thread the needle in a specific way so real knowledge in how to love them, and then he says all discernment in the word discernment here means insight and perception and having spiritual eyes to see what the issues are in how I can extend myself in loving them. It's a practical understanding of people and situations, and to know how to step in and to meet the need. In other words, how to love real people with real needs in real situations. We need spiritual discernment. We need spiritual God-given insight. We need to be able to see into their life and to prescribe the right thing to do to help them. So this necessitates that we be people who have wisdom, which is the proper application of knowledge that we beat we that we be skilled in knowing how to serve others. Well, that leads us now as we come to to the verse 10 he says, so that you may approve the things that are excellent. The word approve here. The idea is to come to the realization of the things that are excellent and the things that are excellent are the ways that you may love other people.
The most difficult decisions in loving other people is not really between good and evil. I mean, that's pretty obvious were not to choose an evil path. The most difficult thing to sort through is in making choices between good, better, and best we could do good toward someone else. But how much better would it be to do what's better or what is best and what is best is what is excellent. That's why he says so that you may approve the things that are excellent.
Certainly, parents need this with her children. Do they not. Certainly pastors need this with the flock, but certainly every member of the body of Christ needs this in relationship to others in the church and it is this for which Paul prays this is the prerequisite of love that you would have the real knowledge and the discernment to be able to size up the need and the size up the situation and then to approve what is excellent and meeting that need this latest third to the purity of love and Paul's praying that their love will be marked by purity of motives and purity of words and purity of deeds not notice what he says in the middle of verse 10 in order to be sincere and blameless.
The word sincere is another one of these compound words and as Paul wrote the New Testament. His books he so often. It was a master with words using compound words and and the idea here is the main root word is to judge and then there is a prefix at the beginning. That means shining like the shining of a light in the idea is to judge something by light and in the first century what would happen is you would go into the marketplace in order to a woman would buy a piece of pottery and if it had cracks in it. Sometime a dishonest merchant would take some waxing cover up the cracks so they would not be seen, and you have to put it under the sunlight and then you could see the cracks. The light would bring the imperfections to be visible and so the word sincere really carries the idea that there are no cracks. There's no blemishes.
There's no flaws. There's no impurities in your love that you would love not for what you can gain in return that you would love simply to give to someone, whether or not they ever respond to you or not.
That's very practical and very real. The life you can be in a church and you can go up and he is gracious and kind to someone in they may not be as gracious and kind back to you and you could take that personals or less last time I went to that person and talk will. That's not loving with sincerity that that's loving only if you get something in return. Know when we love this way will we love without any flaws or without any blemishes. We give ourselves away to others, and any ads and blameless in the in some ways that's a synonym here in the word blameless means without stumbling without falling into a sin and blameless does not mean sin less, but it does mean that you sin less it means to be without a moral charge that can be brought against you again is not speaking of moral perfection, but it is saying that there is not an area in your life that is glaringly obvious that people can see in your life. Why haven't you dealt with this. So these two word sincere and blameless, tell us that true love is always holy love is never selfish. It's always self less the true love is always marked by pure motives to genuinely give help to others lost takes love gives this lease to forth the perseverance of love, notice of the universe 10 until the last day achievement till the day of Christ, that is to say that we will love Paul's praying that they would love people all the way to the end of the age that there would be no limits set on the love that they will give true love never stops loving true love goes the 2nd mile the 3rd mile true love forgives 70×7.
True love gives and gives and gives true love receives the prodigal back home with open arms. True love kisses the prodigal, and put the robe on his back in a ring on his finger and kills the fatted calf immediately true love has no shelflife true love has no expiration date. True love keeps giving and giving and loving and loving until the day of Christ. That's what Paul is praying for the believers in Philippi and that is what we need in our own lives as well that there is no line in the sand that beyond that I just can't go any further, know we will love until the end of the age is leads us to fifth. The producing of love and that's in verse 11. This love is fruit that must be produced in us by the Holy Spirit. It comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. We don't produce love, we simply exercise love I will. We we don't self generate love. Christ in us by the Holy Spirit produces the love we simply bear it as a branch would bear fruit is produced by the vine, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So he says in verse 11, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness that points back to the time of their conversion in the fruit of righteousness is really love in action righteousness here refers to practical righteousness, a daily Christian living in refers to our sanctification refers to our growth in grace and Paul is is acknowledging that they had been filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Beginning the moment that they stepped into the kingdom. The moment that they believed in Jesus Christ. God began producing fruit in a changed life. There was no second work of grace, it all began at the moment of regeneration of the new birth.
And that's when the fruit of righteousness began, and it filled their lives, and he acknowledges which comes through Jesus Christ.
Everything comes through Jesus Christ. There is nothing good spiritual are godly in your life but that it has come through Jesus Christ and he is seen here as the mediator of this fruit of righteousness that he is the mediator of this law, then action that is being produced in their lives so we can say this love is a choice that we must make the step out by faith and to give ourselves to others, but it is the result of God being at work within us both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Love is a super natural work of God in our own hearts and notice he says that the universe 11 silly Dale Gloria, to the glory and praise of God. When we love others like this. It brings great glory to God and Jesus said in John 15 eight my father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciple. You want to glorify God today in your life and extend yourself to others, reach out with love ministered to them serve their needs and you will bring great praise and glory to God and serving others at great expense to ourselves. Even those who were difficult to love you loose me to renew your mind. We well thank you for being with us today our focus this week is on Dr. Lawson's leaders teaching series rejoice in the Lord. Paul's letter to the Philippians 24 messages. Dr. Lawson explains that joy gives us the ability to live faithfully for the gospel and the joy only comes from the Lord.
We would like for you to have this six DVD set to skip a donation of getting about to leave your ministries when you call us at 800-435-4343 if you prefer, you can make your request online at Renewing Your Mind on the word. Tomorrow we'll wrap up Dr. Lawson's reasonable letter that joyful Christianity brings with it a beneficial side effect is contagious. Will you more about that tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. I hope you'll join us