Love with Knowledge and Discernment

Photo by Kourosh Qaffari:
Philippians is one of Paul's joyful letters that he wrote to the church in Philippi. It is a letter writing to a church that he is very thankful for, and he writes them to let them know specifically of his thankfulness.
You'll see in verses 3-6 that this is one Greek sentence. Paul is full of gratitude for this church, but he says how he gives thanks by prayer. He prays to God on their behalf expressing his gratitude for them. It is a blessing from God to Paul these believers in the church of Philippi. There are people in your life that are a blessing to you, and you have God to thank for that.

Paul is specifically thankful for them because of their partership in the gospel. Your translation may say "fellowship" but it communicates the idea of more than just beyond interest. It is a shared vision of what it of transcendent importance. Ohio people usually have a shared interest of the Ohio State Buckeyes. You see someone with an Ohio State shirt on and you have the interest of watching the buckyeyes play every saturday. This parternship is deeper than that because this parternship is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of all the reasons Paul could have told this church he was thankful, it was their partnership that made him give thanks to God.
You can read in verse 6, Paul is sure of God's commitment to the Philippians. The entire work of salvation starts with God, and it will be finished by God. We can trust the character of God that He is faithful, and He always finishes what He starts.

Paul's joy is declared in verse five, and now his confidence in verse six. The confidence isn't just a personal blessing that God will finish the work, but that He will finish the work in the corporate body of the church. Amongst the partnership, God who started this work among this group of believers will finish the work He started. 
It's clear in this text that Paul cares for them, and he ends the text on a three-fold structure. There is a request, purpose, and a final result.


Paul prays that their love would grow in a specific way. It would grow that it is discerning and knowing. It's not just one or the other. If one grows over the other, we become imbalanced and it will affect us negatively. 


Why does Paul pray for this? So these believers be able to approve what is excellent. There are decisions we all have to make in life that aren't black or white. It's a grey area decision, and Paul's aim for believers is make the most excellent decision that will bring the most honor and glory to God. 

Final Result

The final result is purity. The final result is holiness. Making decisions that honor and glorify God the most fills us with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. The picture here connects to a verse like Psalm 1:3 describing the believer. 
He is like a tree
 planted by streams of water
 that yields its fruit in its season,
 and its leaf does not wither.
 In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:3