I invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me to the book of Philippians, Philippians chapter 1, as we have found ourselves in the book of Philippians for these last several weeks. And we are looking at Paul’s opening remarks to the Philippians as he expresses thanks to them; it is found in verses 3 through 11 of Philippians chapter 1. The title of this message is A Pastor’s Heart. And this is part three. I want to begin by reading in verse 3, but our focus this morning as we come together is verses 9 through 11. But I want for us to see the larger unit of thought as Paul writes. And as you know, Paul begins many of his letters this way, with an initial expression of gratitude to that particular church for how he sees and understands God is at work in the life of that church. And he expresses his prayers on their behalf. And so, the book of Philippians opens in much this same way. Yet, there is a tender affection in his heart for the church at Philippi that exceeds, really, the expression of affection that he has for other churches. This church was very special to the apostle Paul, and it comes out even in this opening expression of gratitude. Beginning in verse 3, Paul writes:
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
This is one of four prison prayers that Paul wrote during his first Roman imprisonment. During this time of his initial confinement in Rome, Paul wrote four prison letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. The first three of these letters were written to churches, to the church at Ephesus, to the church at Philippi, to the church at Colossae. And the fourth was written to an individual, to Philemon. These prison prayers should really be instrumental in guiding us in our prayers for others. They are found in Ephesians 1, Ephesians 3, Philippians 1, and Colossians 1. And each of these prayers gives a remarkable insight into the heart of the apostle Paul. There is a sense in which the rest of the letter gives us insight into his mind. But these opening prayers give insight into his heart. And we discover that his heart is full of love for these churches to which he writes.
When we think of Paul, we think of his towering intellect, do we not? He was the gifted theologian. He was the teacher of sound doctrine. He was the brilliant author of 13 epistles. He was the champion of the faith. He was the guardian of the gospel. However, in these prison prayers, we discover what a great lover he is; a lover of God, yes, but a lover of God’s people. And he was a pastor even to these churches from afar.
As Paul writes this letter to the Philippians, his love for them just comes through loud and clear. And he tells them that they are constantly on his mind. “I cannot get you out of my mind. And you are in my heart.” As he bares his soul to them, he tells them that he feels very deeply for them, that he longs for them, and that he has warm affections for them, the very affections of Jesus Christ. And so, his love for them comes gushing out of his heart and is recorded here and becomes, really, I believe, an encouragement to each and every one of us.
Now, we have already looked at verses 3 through 8. And for those of you who are visiting today, I will just give you the headings as we have walked our way verse by verse and even phrase by phrase through this opening prayer. But we have noted to this point five things. Number one: Paul had a thankful heart, verse 3; and a joyful spirit, verse 4; a gospel focus, verse 5; a confident hope, verse 6; and an affectionate love, verses 7 through 8. That is the quickest review I have ever done in my life!
VI. A Spiritual Aim (Phil. 9-11)
Now, there is a sixth and final aspect to this opening prayer to which I want to draw your attention and will be our focus today, and it is A Spiritual Aim. Paul is a true shepherd of the flock. And his greatest concern for them are spiritual concerns, that they would grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they would become more like Jesus Christ. And that comes through very clearly in verses 9 through 11. This is his spiritual goal for them. This is what he is actually praying for them. In verse 4, he said that he is always offering prayer for them. Verses 9 through 11 tell us what this prayer is.
Now, in our English translation, verses 9 through 11 are one long sentence. And there is a lot that is packed into this one, long, flowing sentence. I mean there is a main verb, and a main subject, but there are also clauses, and phrases, and infinitives, and participles and layers upon layers of elements of this verse. To draw this in a sentence diagram would require some extra paper and careful thought. So, as we walk through this, I want to set before you some simple headings to help us unravel and unwind what is all packed very tightly into this little section. And as we do, I want to remind us that this should serve as a pattern for how we should pray for others, how we should pray for one another, how spouses should pray for one another, and how parents should pray for their children. This is an outstanding template, an outstanding outline for us to use in prayer. We see the key one in Matthew chapter 6 in our Lord’s Prayer, but this is a secondary pattern, or another example of how we may pray for one another. I have seven headings that I want to set before you.
Number one, the priority of love. As verse 9 begins, Paul says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more.” That basically is the only thing for which he is praying for the Philippians. Love is so important that to pray for an increased love in the Philippians would be to pray in an umbrella-type fashion that would overarch the entirety of their lives. If they would only increase in love, there is a sense in which everything else would fall into right place. Love is the fulfillment of the two greatest commandments. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Without a moment’s hesitation, He said, “To love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. And in this the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled.” Love is that important. It is the fulfillment of what God requires. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. “For the fruit of the Spirit is love.” We could say that love is the very heart of biblical Christianity. It is produced by the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. And this love is the highest word for “love” that there is. There are lesser words for “love” that speak of more of a friendship type love or a physical love. But this is a God-like love that can only come from God Himself. It is a love that looks away from self to others. It is a love that sacrifices for others. It is a love that gives of one’s self to seek the highest good in another. Lust takes from others. Love gives to others. This love yields to others. It serves others. It ministers to others. It lifts up others. It prays for others. It encourages others. Contained in this request for love, really, is the fulfillment of all the Christian life.
Now, you will note when he says in verse 9, “I pray that your love may abound still more and more,” you will note there is no object mentioned for their love. Paul does not say specifically “who” or “what” they are to love. He simply says, “I pray that your love may abound still more and more.” And it is left to the reader to supply the “who” or the “what” is to be the object of this love. In the larger scope of Scripture, and in the larger context of this passage, I believe that we are to take this in a comprehensive way, that he is praying that as their love will increase more and more, number one, they will increase in their love for God. That is the fulfillment of the greatest commandment, that we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That is the apex. That is the pinnacle. That is the high watermark. And we could say that if we would only love God with increasing heart affection, that everything else would eventually fall into place.
And not only love for God, but love for Christ as well. And that is spoken of later in this book, in Philippians 3 and in verse 10 he says, “That I may know Him.” This word for “know” means really, “to love,” that I may grow to know and love Him more. But in this context, Paul certainly has his eye on showing love for the other believers. We see that in chapter 2, verses 1 through 4. Paul writes in the second chapter, and he says:
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
As Paul says in verse 9 of chapter 1, “I pray that your love may abound still more and more,” it is right to assume that he is speaking of an increased love for God, an increased love for Jesus Christ. We could even add an increased love for the Scripture and the truth, an increased love for God’s kingdom, but most specifically here, an increased love for others. Now, he says, “I pray that your love may abound still more and more.” That presupposes that they are already loving one another. They are already loving God. They are already loving the Lord Jesus Christ. But what he is praying for here is an enlarged love. No matter where one is in their Christian walk, there is need for greater love for God, and greater love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and greater love for other Christians and other believers.
Note the word “abound,” “that your love may abound.” This word “abound” means, “to overflow with abundance.” It means, “to increase beyond set boundaries.” The idea here is of a fountain of love that would come gushing out of their hearts and lives in even greater capacity and measure. This word “abound” is, this verb is in the present tense. It calls for them to be always abounding, and always growing in their love for others. This is exactly what Paul was praying for the church at Thessalonica. In 1 Thessalonians 3, verse 12, he says, “May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people.” The idea there is not just for other Christians, but even for those who are unconverted, for all people. Then he says in 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 1, “Excel still more.” In other words, we never hit the point where we do not need to be loving others more and more.
A. T. Robertson, a great grammar expert in the New Testament, has restated this, “that your love may abound.” He says, “that there may be a perpetual flood of love that would be flowing from our lives.” And he restates it this way, “May our love keep on overflowing.” In other words, may it not slow down to a mere trickle as it would flow from our lives, but may it be a creek that becomes a stream, that becomes a river of overflowing love. He then adds, “still more and more.” That is for dramatic emphasis. He could have left it at just, “that your love may abound,” but he adds, “still more and more.” In other words, “that your love be richer and richer, always increasing, ever abounding.”
This is the priority of love. It is the only thing for which he mentions here that he is praying for the Philippians. And certainly this is how we should be praying for one another, and how we should be praying for our own lives, that “God, You would give me greater love for You, and that You would give me greater love for others.” The more that we love God, that enlarges our capacity to love others even more. You and I can never have enough love in our hearts for God and for Christ, and for His word, and for others. This is where this begins, the priority of love.
And before I move on, let me draw to your attention that this should be the priority in your life this day. For each and every one of us here today, we should be asking God, “Give me a deeper, purer, fuller love that would come flowing out of my heart.” Not just that we would have more knowledge in our head, but that we would have more love in our heart for others.
Second, I want you to note the prerequisite for love. He continues in Philippians 1, verse 9, “And this I pray that your love may abound still more and more.” Now, notice the prerequisite, “in real knowledge and all discernment.” What is Paul saying here? He is saying that if our love is to abound still more and more, and how many here today would like for there to be greater love flowing supernaturally out of your life? Well, here is the prerequisite. It is always in real knowledge and all discernment. So, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves just for a moment and understand what Paul is saying, and what does he mean when he says, “in real knowledge and all discernment?” This preposition “in,” I-N, is saying that the abounding love that we want and need will take place within the domain, within the sphere, of real knowledge and all discernment.
How important is real knowledge and all discernment in your spiritual life? There cannot be an abounding love, yet more and more, unless there is real knowledge and all discernment. Let us begin with real knowledge. It is exactly one word in the original Greek, just one word. It is two words brought together to form one word. The main root word is a word gnosis, G-N-O-S-I-S. And it refers to not just head knowledge. Really we would say, “heart knowledge,” a deep experiential knowledge. Not just facts in the head, but something that you feel and own in the heart. It is a close knowledge, an intimate acquaintance with someone or something. And there is a preposition that is put at the beginning of this word, epi, E-P-I, which intensifies this word. And that is why when the English translators translate this, “real knowledge,” it is not even the word for “real.” That is another word for “authentic,” or “genuine.” It is just one word. And so as not to take more words to define this, it is just translated, “real knowledge.” But it speaks of an intimate, personal knowledge, an experiential knowledge, a knowledge that has affected your life. Throughout the rest of the New Testament, in the great majority of uses of this word, some commentators say in all of the uses, it refers to a deeper, personal knowledge of God.
Only someone who is converted to Christ, only someone who is regenerated and born again has real knowledge of God. Others merely know about God, but it is the true believer who has real knowledge of God. And the real knowledge of God means that they have an experiential knowledge of God like a husband would know his wife in a very intimate and personal way. That is what Paul is saying, “I am praying for you, that you will have a deeper knowledge of God.” In fact, you cannot abound in love independent of real knowledge of God. The deeper you love God, the larger your heart will be and the capacity to love others.
Now, there is a parallel passage I want you to turn to, Colossians 1, Colossians 1, verses 9 and 10. And one interpretive principle is we use Scripture to interpret Scripture. And as Paul was in prison in Rome, his first Roman imprisonment, remember I told you he wrote four prison epistles. One was Philippians, which we are now looking at. Another was Colossians. And as he writes to the Colossians, you will see that he says much the same thing to the Colossians regarding what he is praying for the Philippians. Time does not permit me to parallel these two prayers in Philippians 1 and Colossians 1. It is an interesting study in and of itself. But I want you to note in Colossians 1, verse 9, after Paul gives the same type of thanksgiving for the Colossians that he gives for the Philippians, he now comes to verse 9, Colossians 1:9, just like Philippians 1:9. And he says, “For this reason, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled,” watch this, “with the knowledge of His will,” the very same word, epignosis, “the deep intimate knowledge of God and His will.” Now, continue to read, “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will be able to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing,” watch this, “in the knowledge of God.”
So, back in Philippians 1, verse 9, this real knowledge, the very same word, it is just translated “knowledge” here instead of “real knowledge,” is the knowledge of God. If we are to abound in our love for others in a supernatural, God-provided way, it necessitates a deepening, growing, personal, relationship with God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. And when we are short in our supply of love for others, it is because we are short in our love for God. When it is hard to love others, so many times it is because there is a spiritual short circuit in our relationship with God. That is why Paul is praying here in Philippians 1, verse 9, “that you will abound still more and more in love in real knowledge,” in real knowledge. Also included in this is the real knowledge of God’s will and God’s word. Real love requires real knowledge. That is a pithy way to put this. “Real love requires real knowledge.” And this knowledge is the knowledge of God, and it is the knowledge of God’s word. We have to know what God requires of us, if we are to love one another.
He then adds, “and all discernment.” Now, “discernment” is the specific insight into people’s lives and situations. People that I am called to love, discernment gives me insight into how to love them. It deals with the application of love. When he says, “all discernment,” this word “discernment” means, “perception.” It is kind of like x-ray vision, to be able to look into situations and to size up people and to know what their real needs are, and how to reach out and love them. It is one thing to have the desire to love another person. It is something else completely to know how to best come alongside of them, and to give that love to them. This word “discernment” means, “powers of mental judgment.” It means, “a practical understanding of people and situations.” And the word “all,” “all discernment,” means all types of situations and all kinds of people. And so, the idea is, in this context, Paul is praying for the Philippians to have spiritual eyes to see with spiritual insight into the lives of people around them regarding how they were to apply God’s love.
Even a parent with a child; each child is different; each child is unique; each child has its own temperament; each child has its own personality; each child responds differently to correction and to instruction. Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all. If a parent deals with each child in exactly the same way, many times it is a round peg into a square hole. It just does not fit. And so, it requires, does it not, all discernment, as a parent would love a child, to know each child’s emotional makeup and how they respond. Where one child responds to a strong word, another child rebels against a strong word, and it provokes them to wrath. And it requires much discernment and much understanding in order to know how to love.
What is true of a parent to a child is true on a far broader spectrum with each one of us as we interact with one another. It is not a one-size-fits-all love that we are to have in this church. We come from all different backgrounds. We are of all different ages. We have all different kinds of issues and baggage. And we have all different kinds of needs. And it requires much discernment to know how to interface in a way that edifies them and builds them up. And that is what Paul is praying for the Philippians. And that is what we should pray for one another, for we are surrounded in this church, as well as outside of this church, by all kinds of people and all types of situations. Some are up; others are down. Some are on the mend; others are needing to be broken. And how it requires all discernment to know how to express love to them. We need more than desire; we need discernment. We need more than interest; we need insight. We need more than passion; we need perception in order to know how to love others.
Now, third, not only the priority of love, I want you to note third now, the practice of love. He says in verse 10, “so that you may approve the things that are excellent.” The reason they need real knowledge and all discernment is for a reason. It is for a purpose. “So that you [the Philippians] may approve the things that are excellent.” Let us look at each of these words. The word “approve,” really is the idea of choosing what is best. And in the context, it is choosing what is best in regard to loving others. “The things” refer to loving others. And “the things that are excellent” refers to choosing what is best in loving others. It is choosing what is excellent in loving others. As we consider loving others, it is usually not a choice between good or bad. It is usually a choice between good, better, and best. And “excellent” here is a synonym for “best.” Paul is saying, “I am praying for you that you will best know how to love one another.” Sometimes you need to give words of encouragement. Sometimes you need to come alongside and help someone complete a task. Sometimes you need to let them do it on their own so that they can learn from this. At other times we need to be long-suffering and patient. At other times, there needs to be a quick confrontation, and to bring to their attention something. There are all different types of ways that we are to love one another. And we do not want to just love one another with what is good or what is better. We want what is best, what is excellent in loving others. And so, that is what he is saying. The idea is not merely that we can distinguish or we are to distinguish between good and bad, but what is good, better, and best. So, that is what Paul is praying. And that is what you and I need. We need to be able to approve, to distinguish, to sort through all these different options and ways so that we can approve the things that are excellent.
Now, fourth, the purity of love. As we continue to look at this he then says, “in order to,” in verse 10, the middle of verse 10, “in order to be sincere and blameless.” What he is saying, we must love one another with abounding love if we are to be sincere and blameless. To be sincere and blameless is the result of growing love for one another. In other words, if we are not growing in love for one another, we are not sincere. We are filled with hypocrisy. And if we are not growing in love for one another, we are not blameless. We are to be blamed for our insensitivity towards one another and our selfishness toward ourselves. And so, he says in the middle of verse 10, “in order to be sincere and blameless.” True knowledge and all discernment that chooses what is excellent produces a life that is sincere and blameless.
Let us consider each of these words. The word “sincere” is a very interesting word. Literally, in the original language it means, “to judge by sunlight.” And in the first century in ancient Rome fine pottery was very fragile, and it easily developed cracks. And people would cover up those cracks with wax. And sometimes they would then sell them in a marketplace. And the only way to judge the condition of a fine piece of pottery would be to hold it up to the light and judge it by the light to see if there are cracks that are being covered over with deception.
“To be sincere” means there is no cover-up in your life. “To be sincere” means there are no cracks that you are trying to hide in your life, that there is integrity and wholeness about your life. That is what the word “sincere” means. It carried the idea of being without wax, without cracks. And there is a genuine wholeness about your life. There are not different components. You are not one person on Sunday, and someone else on Monday. You are not one person here on Sunday night and someone else on Saturday night. And there are no cracks that make divisions and separations in your life, but there is a completeness and a wholeness. That is what Paul is saying. And so, if we are to be sincere in our Christian lives, then we must be growing in our love for God and for one another, and demonstrating that love. And if we do, then we are sincere. If we do not, then our life becomes segmented into components, and there is a differentiation between what we say and how we live.
The word “blameless” is another interesting word. It is a positive word with the negative prefix in front of it. The positive main word is “to stumble.” And there is a negative in front of it, a-, which means, “not.” We use that in our English language. For example, a museum is a place you go to think, with the word “muse.” “To muse,” means, “to think.” “A-musement,” you put a- in front of “muse.” You go to a place not to think. You intentionally want to unplug your brain and amuse yourself. That is what is going on with this word here, “blameless.” And it means to live your life without stumbling, not stumbling.
Sometimes today young people will make a sentence and put “not” at the end. And that is really the idea of this word. It is not falling into selfish conduct or sinful conduct, and it is not causing others to follow. It is to move forward in one’s spiritual life without falling into moral failure. A. T. Robertson says that this word “blameless” means to avoid offense, or literally, “not to stumble,” or “to be without stumbling.” This is the result of loving others. We love without our lives being like a cracked piece of pottery, that there would be need to cover-up things in our lives to give appearance of piety when in reality we are not, and it would cause us also to stumble as well.
Now, note number five, the perseverance of love. For how long should we love like this and seek to grow in our love? Philippians 1, and at the end of verse 10, he says, “until the day of Christ Jesus.” This means the Philippians were to be always moving forward in pursuing love and that there would never be a time of rest, or that they had arrived, but they were to pursue love in greater and in large capacity until the day of Christ Jesus. In other words, they must be always pressing on in loving God and in loving others, abounding still more and more.
This should challenge all of us here today no matter who we are or where we are, no matter if we have been a Christian for a few years, or for several decades, whether this is a time in our lives where we are strong in our devotion towards God, or perhaps we have drifted away from the Lord. No matter where we are, there needs to be yet more love until the day of Christ Jesus.
Number six, the producing of love. Just to try to see everything that Paul is saying in this condensed sentence, and beginning in verse 11, he talks about the producing of love. He says, “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.” Now, the big picture of this is he is referring to the fruit of love. Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” He says, “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness.” The root is one’s saving faith in Jesus Christ. The fruit that grows from the root, the fruit is the fruit of righteousness. Now, righteousness in this context means, “right outward behavior.” It refers to good deeds, godly deeds, the display of ethical, good works, because love is far more than just a feeling. Love is doing. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” “God has demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” True love acts. True love does. True love makes decisive choices. True love is always in action. It is not just in feeling. It is in action. There is reality about it. And that is the fruit of righteousness. He says that they have been filled with the fruit of righteousness.
It is a verb tense, “having been filled,” that looks to the past with continuing results in the present. And the idea is from the moment you became connected to the root, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, there immediately began to be the filling of your life with the fruit of righteousness. “To be filled” here is another, this sentence is filled with all kinds of difficult words that require some explanation. This is much harder than preaching a story or a narrative out of the Bible. It requires us digging into this. This word “filled” is the same word that is used in Ephesians 5:18, “to be filled with the Spirit,” plēroō. And the idea here is to be made complete, to be made full, but in such a way that that which fills us, dominates us. We become under the control of it. That is the idea being filled with the Spirit. It is to be dominated by the Spirit, to be controlled by the Spirit. And the idea here is that we are to be, our lives are to be dominated and controlled with the fruit of righteousness and active participation in demonstrating our love for one another.
And then he adds this, there is just no end to all of these small phrases and clauses, “which comes through Jesus Christ.” The “which” refers back to the fruit of righteousness. This fruit of righteousness comes through Jesus Christ. This word “through” denotes the channel through which this fruit is produced in our lives. It comes through Jesus Christ. It comes through His grace being operative in our lives. It is through His power. It is through His divine enablement that this kind of fruit of righteousness is produced in our lives. Only Jesus Christ can produce this fruit in us. It is supernatural fruit that cannot be humanly generated. It can only come through a supernatural means, and that is through Jesus Christ.
And then finally, the praise for love. At the end of verse 11, he says, “to the glory and praise of God.” When we grow and abound still more and more in our love for God and in our love for one another, it is to the glory and the praise of God. It is to the glory and the praise of God because, one, it brings us into conformity with God. “God is love,” 1 John 4, verse 7. We become godly the more we love, the more we love God, and the more we love one another. And so, it brings glory and praise to God because we are becoming more like God.
It also brings glory to God because it is apparent that only God can produce this love in our lives. There is no explanation for us to live this way except it is God who is at work within us both to will and to work for His good pleasure. I would remind you of Philippians 2, verse 13, which we looked at some weeks ago. Paul writes regarding sanctification, and he says, “God is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” It brings glory to God because it bears testimony to others that God is at work in your life. As I see you loving in increasing measure, it bears witness that God is truly at work in your life.
Third, it brings glory and praise to God because when there is fruit produced in our lives, that brings glory to the vinedresser, does it not? The garden itself and the fruit that is produced in a vineyard, it is a reflection of the gardener himself. And when the branches are thriving and there is much fruit being produced, and as the gardener is walking through the vineyard, and as he is pruning that which is unproductive so that there will be greater growth and development in those branches to produce more fruit, it does not bring glory back to the branch itself. It brings glory to the vinedresser who was the one who is overseeing the entire vineyard and the production of the fruit. Well, this is why it brings glory and praise to God, because God is ultimately the one who is overseeing our sanctification, and overseeing our Christian growth and development.
I think a cross reference that we need to hear is John 15, verse 8. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit.” It glorifies God as there is more fruit being produced in your life, and in my life. So, no wonder Paul adds this at the end of verse 11, that all of this increased love produces fruit to the glory and praise of God. When God is so at work in our lives that we are responding in ways that are not natural, but supernatural, when we are giving in ways that far exceed a human dimension, the only conclusion that there can be is that God is definitely at work in that man’s life, in that woman’s life. He or she just keeps on giving. He or she keeps on loving. There is such a sacrifice on their part for others. They just keep dying to themselves and considering the interests of others to be more important than their own. When we live in that manner of life, it brings greatest glory to God.
So, as Paul has expressed what his prayer is for the Philippians, this certainly is a checklist for us in our own spiritual lives, is it not? This is very practical. This is where life is lived for us. And what Paul prays for them, there must be the same evidence in reality in our own lives. And there must be an ever-abounding flow and overflow of love. It will only come as there is real knowledge of God and all discernment that the Holy Spirit gives us to have insight into others so that we may approve the things that are excellent, so that we may know what is the best thing to do for someone else in accordance with the wisdom of God. And that leads us to living lives that are sincere and blameless. And we are to keep on doing this until the day of Christ. And we have been filled and must be continued to be filled with the fruit of righteousness. And it only comes through Jesus Christ in our lives. And as it does, it is to the glory and to the praise of God.
The key here is in verse 11. It is all through Jesus Christ. How we must love Him, adore Him, obey Him, and be those through whom His love is being produced in us. The story is told of Lawrence of Arabia, after World War I went to Paris and took with him some of his Arab friends to show them around Paris. They had lived all their lives in the desert there in the Middle East. And as he brought them to Paris, he showed them the Arch of Triumph, the Louvre, Napoleon’s tomb, and so many other places. They were only mildly impressed with what they were seeing. But what really got their attention was when Lawrence of Arabia checked them into a hotel in downtown Paris. They went up to their room. Lawrence of Arabia showed his Arabian friends how to turn the sink on. He turned the handle, and water began gushing out. Water is such a rare treasure from where they lived. At the end of the day before they were to go and see more of Paris, Lawrence of Arabia came back to their room. They had some equipment, and they were trying to take the faucet off so they could carry that around with them, having no idea that it had to be connected and that behind that faucet in reality stood all of the snow of the Alps mountains and all of the water flowing down from above, and then coming through that tiny little pipe.
In order for you and me to love God and to love one another, we have to be rightly connected to the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is all through Him, every drop of love that will ever flow through your life will flow through the Lord Jesus Christ. And outside of Jesus Christ, there is zero love, zero supernatural love, of the Christian highest order, to flow through your lives. The greatest thing that you can do for this church is to be rightly connected to Jesus Christ, and for the love of God in Christ to be flowing through your lives. Do not think you can just unscrew the faucet and carry it around with you all week, that somehow there is some magic power just even in your sermon notes that you have taken down today, or in the worship guide program, or walking back into this building. The true source and means of supernatural love for your life is exclusively through Jesus Christ, the person and work of Christ. So, as you would have this love increasing in your life, I would urge each one of us to draw near to Christ, to abide in Christ, to follow Christ, to give honor and glory to Christ. And as we do, we are hooked up to the true source of supernatural love. And it will flow in and through our lives in ways that will result in praise and glory being given to God the Father.
If you are not saved, if you are not a believer, you are not hooked up to the supernatural source, are you? I mean you are living your life just like a little faucet out in the desert. There is no reality of God in your life. If you would come to Christ, if you would believe in Him, if you would commit your life to Christ, you would then find the true source of love