To Your Love, Add Knowledge and Discernment (Philippians 1:9-11)

[This is part of the Blogging Through Philippians Series]

Have you ever had a relationship with someone in the past that you knew wasn’t right?  Maybe they weren’t right for you, it wasn’t a good fit, or you weren’t “equally yoked” with that person.  Looking back it probably seemed like everyone was aware of this but you 


Because love has the ability to do crazy things to us, even to the point of blinding us from reality.  You may have fooled yourself into believing the lie that “it felt right.”

Paul’s next prayer for the Philippians in verses 9-11 is that their love would abound more and more, but with the caveat, “with knowledge and all discernment.”

Paul was very clear in his writings about the importance of love in the life of a believer.  In 1 Corinthians 13 he says,

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliever up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

There aren’t two ways to interpret this text.

Love is huge.

So why would Paul pray for them to abound in love, “but,”?

For the same reason you were convinced you’d met the love of your life in the earlier example but everyone else saw the situation for what it really was. 

Because love can do funny things.

Without proper knowledge of the object of your love (Christ, in this case) you may end up loving someone else entirely.  You may end up loving a Christ that demands nothing from you.  Your Christ may be a fluffy, genie-in-a-bottle type of Christ who only exists too make you happy.  You may end up loving a Christ that is OK with sin in your life.

In short, you may end up loving a Christ that doesn’t really exist.  Also known as an idol.

Look at Paul’s reasoning in these verses for why knowledge and discernment should accompany their love.  “So that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…”

This isn’t some gushy, pre-teen kind of puppy love.  This is real love, based in real life, built on a real foundation. 

And lest we get too overzealous in our quest for knowledge we would do well to heed Paul’s warnings in 1 Corinthians.  Just as dangerous as love without knowledge is knowledge without love.

Forget about the relationship in the past that didn’t work.  Think about the one you’re in now that did (or the one you’re hoping for).  Think about your relationship with your wife or husband.  What kind of love would it be if you were only interested in loving her according to knowledge?  In other words, what if passion, zeal, or emotion didn’t play a role in your relationship?  How boring would that be?  How loved would your wife or husband feel if you only loved them because you had to or because it was the right thing to do?

Jonathan Edwards said, “He that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion.”

This is what the Bible means when it references worshipping in spirit and truth.  We need to be very sure we are truly worshipping (in spirit) and we need to be very sure we are worshipping the correct person (in truth). 

Lastly, the point of all this, the point of our loving and our knowing, is rooted in a passion for the glory of God (Philippians 1:11). 

A passion for our lives to count for His glory.

A passion for our lives to be fruit-filled accounts of His righteousness and the joy that is to be found in Him.

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.” ~ Jonathan Edwards

What do you think?

– Kevin


One response to “To Your Love, Add Knowledge and Discernment (Philippians 1:9-11)

  1. Pingback: Philippians: To Live is Christ (But To Die Would Be Better?) | all things loss

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