“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment—that you may approve things that are excellent. . .that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ. . .being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
“Faith-flourishing” only occurs when our purpose, priorities and pursuits are God-sanctioned and God-glorifying (Mt. 6:33).
No one wakes up in the morning praying “O Lord, I hope I can be a miserable failure today and bring shame/discredit to Your Holy Name.” But, if we’re not careful, that’ll be what ends up happening if we don’t know how to “abound and approve.”
Paul loved his fellow believers in Philippi—that Roman colony which served as a military outpost and commercial center (Acts 16:12). Named after King Philip of Macedonia (the father of Alexander the Great) in 356 B.C., the Romans captured it in 168 B.C. and in 42 B.C. made its residents citizens of Rome.
Evidently, there were not many Jews living there, for Paul found no synagogue when he arrived there on his second missionary journey. He did meet Lydia, the “seller of purple” there (Acts 16:12-15, 40), who was already a “worshiper of God” (v.14), which meant she was likely a proselyte convert to Judaism. However, after hearing the Gospel, she became the first Christian in Macedonia and, in fact, most likely in all of Europe.
While preaching there, Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned, but this resulted in the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his whole household (Acts 16:25-34). Thus, it’s clear there were many new believers in the new church in Philippi and today’s Manna is Paul’s “Pilgrim Primer” on how to “press for the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
We shouldn’t be surprised that the key to this is “love that abounds (Grk. ‘perisseuo’—‘to be in excess, superfluous, excel, enough and to spare, be in abundance, etc.’) more and more.” And, Paul didn’t leave it to their imagination or shallow emotionalism; instead, he said this “abounding love should be spring from knowledge (Grk. ‘epignosis’—‘full discernment, proper acknowledging, to recognize, be well-acquainted with, etc.’) and all judgment (Grk. ‘aisthesis’—‘perception, discernment, properly apprehend, etc.’).”
Simply put, theirs should be a maturing love which doesn’t impulsively reacts; instead, like a buyer of precious gems or metals, it “approves things that are excellent”—i.e., doesn’t settle for second-best—which leads to “sincerity (Grk. ‘eilikrines’—‘judged by the sun, tested as genuine, pure, etc.’) and a lack of offense (Grk. ‘aproskopos’—‘faultless, not leading into sin, trip up, cause one to stumble, etc.’) until Jesus comes again.”
Oh, dear Pilgrim, isn’t that where you want to be? Don’t you want to “abound in Christ’s Love and excel in the walk of faith, being filled with ripe fruits of righteousness which come from daily abiding on the Vine” (cf. Jn. 15:1-7)? May the Holy Spirit help us to passionately pursue this Christ-life today, for that brings “glory and praise to God.”
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated November 16, 2009