Spiritual Maturity; February 5, 2022

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.

Reading Philippians gives you a warm feeling, because Paul so obviously had a very warm, close relationship with the believers there. This, after all, was where he and Silas were famously beaten with rods and put in stocks in the innermost part of a prison, until God literally broke them out with an earthquake, and the jailer and his household were dramatically saved to eternal life. (Acts 16) In any case, Paul felt a deep emotional connection to them, and they were the only group from which he accepted financial support. These verses express what he prayed for them, and they are rich indeed. He starts by talking about love, since that was the foundation of his relationship with them. However, this wasn’t just an emotion, but was rooted and grounded in knowledge and insight. Emotion isn’t bad in itself, but it is a poor foundation for life. Paul wanted their know­ledge and insight to grow so that they would grow spiritually to be the kind of disciples that bring credit to Jesus Christ our Lord. We often forget that the only Bible people had initially was the Old Testament, and in a Gentile city like Philippi, they probably didn’t even have that. For that matter, the printing press was over a thousand years in the future to them, so any reading material they had at all was hand copied. That required total dependence on and obedience to the Holy Spirit! These days we are totally spoiled by the full Bible being available in countless translations, not just in printed form but electronically, so that we can have it on our phones. Having things easy rarely leads to maturity! That is clearly illustrated by the abundance of “snowflakes” today, who are “triggered” by anyone who so much as disagrees with them. Such people are hardly disciples of Jesus Christ, whatever they say. We should rejoice at the hard times, knowing that if we keep our eyes on Jesus we will come out of them in far better shape spiritually than when we went in. (Hebrews 12:11)

This naturally applies to me. I often comment that I feel James 1:22 was written for me, because I have had a knowledge of the Bible since I was quite small, but I am still tested frequently as to how well I am living out the truth I know. “Knowledge and depth of insight” isn’t just academic or theoretical, it is practical in every area of life. I too want to be filled with the fruit of righteousness for the glory of God, and to do that I’ve got to stay alert and obedient, never stopping with just lip service to anything my Lord asks of me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I often joke that the reason I stay young is because I never mature, but I never want that to be more than a joke! Help me indeed grow and mature continuously, until You call me home, so that I may be a support and guide to those around me, bringing many into active discipleship to Jesus Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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