Love, Knowledge, and Understanding “Philippians 1:8-11”
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
I sincerely would like to be pure and blameless. It seems impossible. I am so damaged. Even when I try my hardest, I fall short; and even when I appear to be doing the right actions, it is often with the wrong motives.
Pure and blameless seems out of my league. Yet Paul is praying for the Church in Philppi (and, I believe, for you and me). And, importantly, he is not only praying, but identifying a path that leads to the very place I want to be. Here is the path to being pure and blameless: Love -with Knowledge -and Understanding/Discernment.
In order for us to even come close, we need all three ingredients. Love without knowledge and understanding is simply an emotional experience -all light, no heat. Knowledge without love and understanding leads to arrogance and judgmentalism. Love and knowledge without understanding/discernment produces an atmosphere where anything goes and no internal transformation is expected.
When love happens in the context of understanding and knowledge, however, we attain compassion, wisdom and transformation. Where true compassion, wisdom and transformation are operating, the Spirit of God is also operating since true compassion, true wisdom, true understanding and true love are from God. Where the Spirit of God is operating, the Kingdom of God is being realized.
Clearly, there is an inherent connection between the Kingdom and the King (Jesus) and His righteousness. It is in this fruitful environment that intimacy with God grows. And intimacy with God produces spiritual transformation that leads to being pure and blameless in God’s eyes.
So, for the Kingdom’s sake, let’s emulate Paul and pray for one another and for the Church that our love will overflow and that we will keep growing in knowledge and understanding.
Love One Another “John 13:34-35”
“I give you a new commandment—to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.”
“Love one another,” is the single command given most often in all of the Bible –it accounts for almost half of all of the “one another” commands. We, as Christians, should love one another.
It would be a little easier if Jesus had said, “Here is a suggestion –maybe you should try to love each other. I know you can’t possibly love each other like I love you, because I’m God and I love you perfectly. I love you even though you don’t truly love me. Since you are incapable of perfect love, you can’t love each other like I love you, but give it your best shot.” That would have been easier, wouldn’t it?
But that’s not what He said. He said, “Here is a new commandment.” A suggestion is optional –it’s something to consider. A commandment means this is mandatory. If we are going to be followers of Jesus, we don’t have a choice in this. “Love one another just as I have loved you.”
It seems the next question has to be, if Jesus loves us perfectly and we are commanded to love each other as Jesus loves us, what does perfect love actually look like?
There are obvious benefits to accepting and responding to Christ’s love –but the reality is that He loves us whether we respond or not. His love for us is not contingent upon our appropriate response. His love for us is not given because we somehow earned it. God has a deep, burning desire that we respond to His love as shown through Jesus, but the love was given in advance. The Bible says it like this in 1 John 4:10, “This is love –not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” And Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Experience tells me that we love each other when it’s convenient and comfortable. I’m not being condemning here –I’m being honest. Many times, instead of loving people unconditionally, instead of loving them right where they are and allowing God to do the changing where changes need to be made, we try to fix them. And here’s what happens when we judge people and try to fix them. They change. They clean up their lives a little. They try real hard to cut back on the smoking and drinking and cussing and other behaviors that are unacceptable to the church. You might think that’s a good thing –but it’s not.
When hurting, sinful people come into our churches, we put pressure on them to change their behaviors and conform to the expected church behavior. And if they cooperate, they are rewarded with being accepted and loved by the congregation. Underneath the new and better behavior, however, they have all kinds of hidden areas of unreconciled sin and guilt. But we’ve taught them to cover it up so that they will be loved and accepted. We’ve taught them to cover the sin issues they are dealing with instead of encouraging them to be transparent and honest in a loving environment where God can reconcile their sins and heal their hearts. We can judge and manipulate people into changing outward behaviors, but only God fixes the deeper problems. When we judge and manipulate instead of loving unconditionally, we by-pass God’s plan for the church.
Respect Theology – Love Jesus “Philippians 2:3-5”
“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
We don’t have to manufacture the unity and humility that Scripture is speaking of. We don’t have to try and make it happen. It is already ours in Christ Jesus. Spiritual disunity in the Church is a result of pride, arrogance and looking to our own interests. But this, clearly, is our issue, not God’s.
By design, all who are truly in Christ have unity with one another. And so long as we abide in Christ, our unity is apparent. The problem is that most Christians abide in church doctrines, traditions, and theological systems instead of abiding in Christ Himself. It’s not that doctrines and traditions and systematic theology are wrong things -it’s just that if we love our doctrines and traditions more than we actually love Jesus, the resulting disunity will also be apparent.
That what separates us as Believers seems more obvious than what unites us ought to be a glaring wake-up call. Respect theology and traditions -but love Jesus and love each other.