Philippians 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.
I often quote verse six of this chapter, writing it in the Bibles of new believers and such, but these three verses flesh out what verse six is talking about. This really is the image of a well-rounded believer, someone who knows God and knows about God and lives in accordance with that knowledge. As long as we are in our fleshly bodies on this earth there are limits to how much we can really know of God, as Paul famously wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12, but the challenge isn’t just to know more, it’s to put into practice what we do know. Because of cultural Christianity, very many Americans know the basic facts of the Gospel, but a sadly small number of them have really applied those facts to their own lives and circumstances. Japanese, on the other hand, often know next to nothing of the Gospel, but even when they hear it they have trouble grasping that it applies to them, that they are sinners in need of salvation. Our knowledge of God must translate from our head to our heart. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) The flip side of that is that love without knowledge can stop with emotion, and emotion is notoriously unreliable. Paul knew that the Philippians loved God, so he wanted their love to be rooted in an accurate understanding of God, enabling them to live lives fully pleasing to God.
This is of course what I desire for those in my care, but it’s not something I can make happen by my own efforts. I’ve got to be active in the process, but I’ve got to be fully yielded to God for Him to do the work through me, if He chooses to use me at all. I’m not to hold anything back, but share the riches of God’s Word in all love and compassion. Even so, I can’t take credit for any successes, because it is only by the Holy Spirit that God’s truth really takes root in people’s hearts. Looking back over my own life, I see that I had spiritual advantages far beyond those enjoyed by most people, but my life has been a textbook illustration of James 1:22. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.” Head knowledge by itself just leads to conceit. I quoted Paul to that effect just above, and my life has been an illustration of that truth. God has had to attack my pride many times and in many ways, and I’m sure He’s not through yet, because I can be very stubborn. However, my desire for myself is identical with my desire for those in my care, and it is just as Paul has written here.
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for showing me how this can be a Christmas message. I ask for Your clear guidance and anointing as I prepare the notes, that I may say exactly what You are saying and nothing else, for the blessing of all who hear and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!