Yesterday I was meditating on abounding love. The greatest commandments according to our Lord is: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) We all know this, but how are we able to love in this manner?
In looking at a portion of a prayer Paul had for the Philippians, we begin to understand. “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1:9-11) He is speaking of agape love, which puts the needs of others before ourselves.
First he prays that their “love may abound”, which means that it overflows like a fountain. But then he added “still more and more”. What he is praying for here is an ever enlarging love. No matter where we are in our Christian walk, there is need for greater love for our Lord, other believers, and the unsaved. We aren’t to be content that our fountain overflows, but that the overflowing causes a stream, that turns into a river overflowing its banks. That’s what he means by abounding in love still more and more.
In the flesh we don’t naturally have that capacity, but he gives us the “how” right after it: “in real knowledge and all discernment”. There can’t be an abounding love, yet more and more, unless there is first real knowledge and all discernment. The words “real knowledge” come from the Greek epignosis. The main root word is a word gnosis, which refers to not just head but heart knowledge, which is a deep experiential, genuinely intimate knowledge of God. Only those who are regenerated and born again by faith in Christ can have that personal 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.
Let’s not forget “and all discernment”, which is God-given specific insight into people’s lives and situations, which gives us insight into how to love those we are called to love. It deals with the application of love. It is God-given “x-ray vision” so that we can see people as God does, to know what their real needs are, and how to reach out and love them. Paul is praying for believers to have spiritual eyes to see with spiritual insight into the lives of people around them regarding how we are to apply God’s love.
The reason we need “real knowledge and all discernment” is “so that you may approve the things that are excellent in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ”. In context, it is choosing what is the best way to love others individually. Paul is saying, “I am praying for you that you will best know how to love one another 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.
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. If we do, then we are sincere; and blameless if we don’t cause ourselves or others to stumble. If we do not, then our life becomes segmented into components, and there is a differentiation between what we say and how we live. To use a catch-phrase from the 70’s, we’re to be really real (authentic). And how long are we supposed to love? We are to always persevere in deepening our love “until the day of Christ”. We must be always pressing on in loving God and in loving others, abounding still more and more.
And how is this love within us produced to overflowing? Paul says, “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.” The root is one’s saving faith in Jesus Christ. The fruit that grows from the root–the fruit of righteousness–is good deeds, godly deeds, the display of ethical, good works, because love is far more than just a feeling. Love is doing. True love is always in action. 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.
The word “filled” is the same word that is used in Eph 5:18: “be filled with the Spirit”, plēroō. This means to be made complete, to be made full, but in such a way that what fills us, dominates us. We become under the control of the Holy Spirit so that our lives are to be dominated and controlled with the fruit of righteousness and active participation in demonstrating our love for one another. It is through His divine enablement that this kind of fruit of righteousness is produced in our lives. It is supernatural fruit that can’t be humanly generated; it can only come through a supernatural means–through Jesus Christ.
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 praise of God”. We become more Christ-like the more we love God and one another, and that brings glory and praise to God because it’s apparent that only God can produce this love in our lives. There’s 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 (Phil 2:13). When we love as God intends, it brings glory and praise to Him. When fruit is produced in our lives, it brings glory to the vinedresser, because the Lord is ultimately the one who is overseeing our sanctification and our Christian growth and development (John 15:8).
Lord, give me a deeper, purer, fuller love that would come flowing out of my heart, abounding more and more for You and for everyone. Lord, I long for a deeper relationship with You, to abide in You and You in me. I pray that You give me spiritual eyes to see how best to show love to others. I pray that You fill me to overflowing so that I am dominated by Your Spirit for Your glory and praise. I thank You, Father, that You are able to make me over into Your likeness by Your grace. Thank You for loving me, so that I can through You share Your love with those around me. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.
Source: A Pastor’s Heart (Pt 3)