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 told the Philippians that he repeatedly prayed for them [Philippians 1:3]. In today’s passage he tells them what he prays for.
First Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would abound. The Greek word for “love” here is αγαπε (pronounced: ag-ah’-pay). This word is one of five ways to say “love” in Greek and describes an unconditional love for others. This is the same word the Bible uses to describe God’s love for us. Paul prays that the Philippians would have the same love that God has.
We are not naturally loving. Our love for God and for others must come from Him. This is one of the ways God wants to change us (see yesterday’s post).
Although Paul does not specify the object of the love the Philippians should have we can conclude that it would be a love for God and for other people. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” [Matthew 22:37, 39].
But notice that Paul doesn’t just want the Philippians to have love. He wants them to have an abundance of love. The Greek word translated “abound” here means to overflow or to have more than is needed. Paul prays that his fellow believers would have enough love for God and other people, with some left over.
Our love is often misdirected. We all have plenty of love for ourselves. God wants our love to be focused not internally but externally: first towards Him and then towards our family, friends, and all human beings. This includes our enemies and those who hate us and hurt us [Matthew 5:43-44].
God also wants our love to pour out of us in large quantities. Imagine filling up a cup with water from a pitcher. Imagine that when the cup is full the pitcher keeps pouring water into the cup so that the water spills over the edge and soaks everything around it. That is how much love God wants us to have. God wants us not to be stingy with our love.
But who has that much love? No one. That is why Paul had to ask God to give the Philippians an abundance of love. God is a bottomless pitcher. Only He has more than enough love to spare and He is willing to share it with us so that we can share it with others.
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