“For God is my record,
how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more
in knowledge and in all judgment;”
Even a casual reading of the book of Philippians clearly reveals that the Apostle Paul had a great and heartfelt love for the believers in Philippi and that these believers loved Paul also.
Today, the word “love” is used to express a variety of things. Sometimes it is used to mean “lust”; sometimes a shallow form of emotion. True love is emotional and passionate but it is much more than this. In the passage above, the Apostle Paul inseparably joins knowledge and judgment with love. Paul desired that their love “abound” (increase, be very plentiful, full, and overflowing), “more and more” in knowledge and judgment. If we were to think of the love that Paul wanted the Philippians to have as a doe running through the forest she would be running swiftly, and running ever faster as she ran further. She would be leaping gracefully over and around obstacles, and following proven and safe pathways revealed by others who had come before. The knowledge and judgment that Paul, as led by the Holy Spirit speaks of, is not cold academic knowledge nor is it harsh and condemning judgment. Not at all. It is a knowledge that comes from understanding and applying God’s word. It is a judgment that comes with maturity and experience and that is skillful in distinguishing good from evil in its various forms - things of the Spirit versus things of the flesh, things that help others versus things that cause others to stumble, bold defense of the truth versus foolish arguments, pure thoughts versus impure thoughts, sound Biblical doctrine versus false teaching, things that please God versus things that don’t.
“For every one that useth milk
is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,
even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised
to discern both good and evil.”
We are plainly told that love of God is obedience to his commandments and that by obeying God we know that we love other believers:
“By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God, and keep his commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous.”
I John 5:2-3
Of course we cannot obey God’s commandments without knowing what they are. We understand them through the Bible and by applying them to our lives - hiding his word in our very hearts. Although this is not easy and the sin nature always fights against it, it is not “grievous” to those who are walking with him in love.
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom:
and with all thy getting get understanding.”
Judgment has been misrepresented and vilified by the devil in our day to such an extent that many people fear to exercise judgment in the way that God commands. This has been one of the devil’s most effective deceptions and many are the victims of his lies. Judgment is essential in order to genuinely love God and others. Judgment results in God being honored and it brings many blessings to ourselves and to others. Without solid Bible judgment we are easy prey to the devil, a stumbling block to others, and a disgrace to our Saviour.
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
God longs for his children to abound in love.
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