When we think of love nowadays, most of our images are of romantic love. More specifically, the images are of that period of romantic love when two people are in the early stages of a relationship. This is the type of love most often depicted in movies and stories. Brotherly love, such as a soldier for his fellow soldiers, does make the movies, too. But less often demonstrated is the love one person has for the people around him or her without romantic attachments or that brotherly type of love such as between a “Band of Brothers.” As a result, this type of love doesn’t come to mind as often, especially as we approach Valentine’s Day, a day typically for romantic love.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:9-11, ESV
Paul’s prayer here is for that love for each other that isn’t romantic or brotherly love. Note, however, that as he described his desire for that love to grow and grow, he put qualifiers on that love. He wanted that love to grow in knowledge and “all discernment.” We have a phrase, “Love is blind.” Paul prayed for the opposite. He prayed that the love of the believers in Philippi wouldn’t be blind, but be all discerning. Have you ever thought about love that is filled with knowledge and all discernment? Have you ever heard anyone praying such a prayer?
Upon giving it some thought, we want love that is knowledgeable and discerning. Have you ever seen someone attempt to do something for someone else and the first person misreads the situation? As a result, whatever was done backfires. It doesn’t encourage, soothe, or make happy. It instead generates the opposite reaction. If only that first person had known going in that such an action would have such a result! Ah, that’s love with knowledge and discernment. In that context, Paul’s prayer makes a lot of sense.
However, Paul’s prayer reached further than that. Note that he also prayed such love would approve what is excellent, so they would be pure and blameless, and that they would be filled with the fruit of righteous. His prayer was with the expectation that such love would permeate their lives, would drive their decisions and actions, and ultimately lead them down a path of righteousness. Talk about a powerful prayer!
The Church needs this type of love. As members of the Church, we each need this type of love. We need love with knowledge and discernment. We want to make decisions which approve what is excellent, so that we may be pure and blameless and filled with the fruit of righteousness. As you think about other Christians that you know, would you lift up this prayer for them? Would you lift it up for yourself? Let us be filled with the right kind of love. Let God fill us with such love.