Dear Church, I love you.
About 200 years ago an encyclopedia wrote an article on love. It took 5 pages. That same encyclopedia attempted to describe the atom and they took about 4 lines. Recently, in a recent addition of that encyclopedia they left love out all together and took 5 pages to explain the atom. You know Jesus said, ''Because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold.'' We live in a day of abounding iniquity and dwindling love. And a psychiatrist said what people in this world need more than anything else is the ability to love and to be loved.
There was a young man who took his Dad out to breakfast one morning and as they sat there and ate the young man looked at his dad and told him that he was going to marry the girl who he had been seeing for a while now. The Father look at his son and said, “How do you know you’re going to get married? Are you in love?” The boy, beaming with joy said, “I sure am.” To which the Father said, “How do you know?” and the replied, “As I kissed her goodnight after our date her dog bit me and I didn’t realize it until I got home.”
And today, as we look at Philippians 1, we find that Paul has certainly found his heart full of love for the believers in Philippi. Let’s notice the Passion of Paul.
The Passion of Paul
The Passion of Paul
It is an intimate love
Meet means “righteous, correct, just, right”
Think comes from the word “phroneo” which means to set ones mind on.
Now, look at v8 for the depth of this love.
It is an implanted love
Can we be confident in someones salvation merely because we love them? No, a physical confirmation to Paul is that They stood in grace regardless of the circumstance.
1 John 2 :19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Now, we go on to v9 to see Paul’s love in shoe leather. There are many people in this world who use the phrase, “I love you” as nothing more than filler for dead conversation space, but when someone genuinely shows you how they love you, you never forget it.
During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier's fiancée had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell's heart was touched and he said, "Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!"
What is the craziest thing you’ve done because of love? Wives, how many nights have you spent watching ball-games or action movies? And men, how many gushy movies have you watched and acted like you’ve enjoyed because you love your spouse?
In 1976 Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme exploded on to every front page in America. She had pushed her way through a crowd and had tried to kill the President of the United States. She was 17 years old. Investigators found her proud that she was a follower of Charles Manson. The world knows Manson as a crazed killer who worked through his small, dedicated band of fanatical "disciples."
News magazines began to dig into the background of this tragic young woman. Their reports found that Squeaky had felt like a misfit in her town, and so she wandered across the country until she reached California. There Manson met her and promised to take care of her. She went with him and was willing to kill and die for him. Reporters wanted to know, "Why would you give your life to a man like Manson?" I read her explanation in a magazine, and I have never been able to forget it. Squeaky explained that she had made a choice early in her teenage years. Here it is: "Whoever loves me first can have my life." Someone probably had loved Squeaky, but she was ready to give her life to whomever made her feel loved first.
The Prayer of Paul
The Prayer of Paul
The What of the Prayer (v9)
For Increasing Love
Stimulated by Knowledge
I find this to be a reciprocal act as found in Paul’s own heart in v6-7.
ESSENTIALLY Paul is praying for them to see the beauty of God’s saving of the brethren and allowing the learning of such Biblical truth to multiple both our affection and action towards one another.
The love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is not merely a preferential thing spurred on by them obeying our desires. It was not natural to our flesh, therefore it is present only in the hearts of the Saints:
1 John 3:14-17 “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
1 John 4:11-21 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
If your growth of Biblical knowledge doesn’t result in love growing within you for the Church, you aren’t growing in Spiritual truth and are, instead, learning the Word as a text-book, not as a Christian.
The Why of the Prayer (v10)
Discerning good from best
The word approve comes from the Greek verb “Dokimazein” which means mentally recognizing worth and also practically putting it to the test of experience. It is this discerning that we will:
First, live in inwardly pure conduct.
Second, it will result in outwardly blameless conduct.
This is what v11 calls “the fruits of righteousness”. Therefore, we should desire for the nutrition of the Word that we may grow in love and discernment so we will yield fruit for the day of the Lord. This is living this day in light of that day! Now, lets end with two questions.
First, are you motivated to succeed?
It is Paul’s prayer that we would grow in love and discernment which all steams from the nurture of the Word. Do you find yourself carried away with failures and shortcomings? Do you find yourself horrified by the thoughts of His coming? Then let the words of this old hymn stir your heart:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in his wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.”
When we gaze upon Christ we will only find ourselves motivated to want to see more of Him, to learn more of Him, to know more of Him, to experience more of Him.
Second, I know such expectations may seem like a hopeless goal, but are you aware that what seems to be a hopeless goal, is a guaranteed outcome? Look at v11
In Mark 4:26-29, the Lord describes the attention that a gardener gives to his plants. When the plant is finally grown the gardener confesses that he doesn’t know how the plant grows. The gardener must plant, water, prune, and tend to the plant or it will die, but it is something other than the man that makes it grow.
This is the same with our fruits of righteousness. Our obedience and disciple are not optional or insignificant because they are the God-intended context for growth. But something else energizes the growth in us until the fruit is ready for harvest at the day of the Lord. You and I must labor in the Word, we must labor in prayer, we must labor in loving one another and though you may not immediately notice growth moment by moment there will be days were your growth will be apparent and it will not be because of your work, but by Jesus Christ. It is the stream of His righteousness that feeds the roots to the tree of fruit.
And the purpose to all of this is that God is going to be glorified. Can you believe that you were saved by God’s grace, you’re being grown by God’s grace, and one day, by God’s grace, you are going to glorify the God of Heaven and Earth.