The Praise in the Prayer
Tim Temple

Introduction

Our text for this lesson is Philippians, chapter 1, beginning with verse 3. Open your Bibles, please, to Philippians, chapter 1. To keep these verses in their context, we will begin reading with verse 1:

Philippians 1

1Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
11Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

There is an old Christian cliche that says: “The family that prays together stays together.” Surely you have heard that statement, and whether you have put it into practice in your family life or not, you understand the idea. It is actually true that prayer fellowship can bring us closer together as Christians than almost anything else does. When we as Christians have opportunity to get together and pray together, and particularly when it is some situation that demands our real attention, our earnest intent and efforts in prayer, we seem to be drawn together in a way that no other relationship, even in the Christian life, can draw us.

This portion of the book of Philippians at which we want to look describes the prayer that Paul is making for the Philippians and deals with that kind of fellowship. We have mentioned before that the Philippians evidently felt very close to the Apostle Paul. We can tell from the tone of this Philippian letter that Paul felt very close to them. I think that one of the reasons that that closeness existed was the fact that, as Paul is going to mention in this text and as we have already seen and will see again, they prayed for each other. They held each other up in prayer. The Philippians prayed for him, and he prayed for them, and so they had a very close relationship.

Paul's Prayer for Specific Individuals

We have looked in verses 1 and 2 as the prelude to this prayer, and so now we want to look at the prayer itself. You will notice that after the prelude to the prayer in verses 1 and 2, the first part of the prayer had to do with the praises that Paul was offering to God for them. Notice in verses 3 and 4:

Philippians 1

3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

The interesting thing here, if we are to take this literally, and of course we are, is in verse 4: “Always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy.” He goes on a little farther down to explain exactly what he is praying for them. Think what Paul is saying here. What he is saying is that he prayed for the Philippians specifically by name. That to me is a very, very significant thing, because here is a busy man of God, traveling all over the known world at that time, spending a great deal of time writing and preaching and teaching and, as in the case of Philemon, counseling, doing a lot of things; yet he says that he takes time to pray specifically for believers.

We won't take the time to look into it, but when you have the time, you might notice the beginning of the book of Romans, the book of Ephesians, the book of Colossians and the books of Thessalonians. You will find that Paul makes the same kind of statement to those people. Evidently the Apostle Paul spent a great deal of time praying for specific individuals. It is hard to imagine that he could even remember the names of that many people, let alone spend time praying specifically for them. But in these letters he says, “I am praying specifically for you.” And in most of those letters he goes on, as he does in Philippians, to tell them exactly what he was praying about for them.

The Key to Paul's Successful Ministry

I think there is something that we should digress for just a moment to point out, and that is the key to the success of the Apostle Paul. Purely from the human standpoint, the Apostle Paul was one of the most successful ministers who ever lived and he accomplished more than most men ever do. As we analyze his life and study it and try to figure out why he was so used of God, certainly among those reasons would have to be this, the fact that he prayed specifically for the people to whom he ministered.

We saw in verse 1 how the text covers the point that he considered himself a servant of Jesus Christ. He had a servant's attitude, and that is certainly one of the basic reasons that God was able to use him so. A second reason is the fact that he prayed for those to whom he ministered.

I can remember when I was in college as a ministerial student. Very often the administration would bring in pastors to speak in chapel. Often when a very successful pastor was going to speak in chapel on the campus, they would also have that pastor come and speak to the ministerial students. They would have the famous Bible teacher or pastor come and, in so many words, tell us the secrets of his success.

I can remember one time there was a man who came and spoke to the student body, and he had a strangely important effect, a real impact. As you can imagine in a Christian college, hearing “famous” speakers day by day, after a certain point in the semester you would began to not be so easily impressed; and a little farther down in the semester it would take a great deal to impress you very much. But this particular man was speaking late in the semester after we had already had opportunities to hear a great many men speak, and yet he had an impact on the student body.

It crossed my mind and in conversation with others later, I found that it had crossed their minds too, “Why was this man able to have an effect on those of us who were perhaps getting hardened to the kind of things he had to say?” As we analyzed it, we found that it was not really what he said, because he didn't really say anything we had not heard before; and it wasn't actually his eloquence, because he really was rather a quiet man. Then when he finally came to the ministerial students, I found the secret. As he came and spoke to us later that same day, he said, “Men, I have one secret to my success, if you want to call it that.” And from a human standpoint, he was a very successful pastor. His church was growing at a great rate. Many people were coming to know the Lord, and all of those sorts of things that we usually consider to be a successful church. He said, “I only have one real secret to my ministry, and that is how I spend Monday.” I thought, “Well, here it comes. Let's see how he spends Monday. He goes fishing and relaxes.” He said, “On Monday I come into my office and I tell my secretary to hold all of my calls until I get through. I go in my office door, and I start praying.” And he said, “I pray for everybody in the church. I go over the roll name by name, then I go through the list of visitors who were there the day before. I pray for them specifically; and,” he said, “sometimes it takes all day long; sometimes it doesn't take that long, but I commit whatever time, I take whatever time is necessary to pray for the congregation.” And he said, “Since I have done that, God has blessed my ministry tremendously.”

Then he went on to say that that was not a rule; it was not something that anybody had to do, and he was not suggesting that we do that unless God led us to. But this, he said, was the secret of whatever success he had had. I think that the Apostle Paul was the same way. He was able to write to the Philippians, the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Romans, and the Thessalonians, and say, “I'm praying for you specifically. I have some specific things in mind.” In this day in which success is geared to programs, publicity, promotion, and that sort of thing, we very often overlook the vital secret of prayer in a ministry.

Now, all of us are in the ministry in one form or another. All of us have a ministry that God has given us, in our neighborhood, in our office, on our campus; wherever it is that God has put us, we all have a ministry. There are many ways to approach that ministry, but let's be very careful that we don't overlook the basic strategy, the basic requirement of praying for those to whom we minister. It is a very significant but often overlooked factor. We should spend time each day if possible praying about those we might possibly have an opportunity to reach during that day, asking God to make us what we need to be in order to have the kind of message that we need to have, asking Him to give us wisdom as to what to say and what not to say and all of the things that are involved in being a minister in the area in which we are.

Thankfulness for Fellowship

Let's notice, then, the things Paul specifically includes in his praise to God. First, in verse 3-5, he praises God for a center of fellowship. Notice he says:

Philippians 1

3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

We need to define and clarify the word “fellowship.” This word “fellowship” that we see here again in this first chapter is a translation of the Greek word koinonia , which means “to have things in common.” It means to be in a spirit of dependence on one another. It is a unique kind of relationship and a word that is used in the New Testament only of the fellowship that exists between Christians.

What Paul is saying here is even more specific than that. He is saying that he is not only thankful for their fellowship, but notice in verse 5:

Philippians 1

5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

That phrase in verse 5 is characteristic of what fellowship really is. Fellowship is not just a matter of belonging to the same social club that someone else does. Fellowship is not a matter of belonging to the same church that someone else does or being from the same hometown. Any of those things tend to tie people together in human terms. Fellowship, in the scriptural sense of the term, is that which is built on the Gospel. So Paul said, “I am thankful that we have a center of fellowship, that this koinonia relationship that we have, this interdependence on each other, is not based on some secret society or some kind of financial status or ethnic background or something like that, but it is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

This is why Paul is able to say in verse 3:

Philippians 1

3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

He wasn't primarily thankful for what they had done. He wasn't thankful for who they were, but he was just able to say, “I'm thankful for you. I have fellowship with you around the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am thankful for that.”

A Continuing Fellowship

Then in verse 5, notice he is also thankful for a continuing fellowship. He says in the last part of verse 5:

Philippians 1

5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

Another characteristic of koinoni fellowship is that it is a fellowship that continues. Their fellowship had been from the first day until now. If we were to take the time to go into an analysis of where Paul had been and what he had done since he first came to Philippi, we would find, and some have taken the time to do that, that it was evidently about ten years that he is talking about when he says, “from the first day until now. From the first time that I met you, even until now, you have been fellowshipping with me in the Gospel. You have been sharing; you have taken care of me.” He mentions in a couple of places in this book where they had sent offerings to him, where they had taken care of him financially.

Verses 3 and 4 tell us the reason that they had stayed with him during that period of time. In verses 3 and 4, he says:

Philippians 1

3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

You see, here is at least one key to continuing fellowship–really two keys, but they are both prongs of the same thing–thanksgiving and prayer. How was it these people had been able to stay in fellowship with him all of these years through thick and thin, which he is going to point out in a minute? It was because, for one thing, he was thankful for them and he had been praying for them. At least one of the keys to real fellowship is prayer and thanksgiving.

Let me ask you a question: Are you really thankful for those with whom you have fellowship? One of the basic aspects of being involved with a ministry in a local church is the opportunity to fellowship with other believers, but so often we take that for granted. We come to church week by week, and we get to know each other a little bit, and we hear each others' prayer requests, and we know to some degree what is going on in each others lives, but how often to we stop and thank God for giving us the opportunity to know other Christians and to have some fellowship with them? Are you thankful?

One of the reasons they had a continuing fellowship was the fact that Paul was thankful for them, and secondly, he prayed for them. Let me ask you this: Do you pray for those with whom you have fellowship? So often we hear the requests of some who have an immediate need, and word gets around by word of mouth about other prayer requests, and we pray for those whom we know to be in need, but how often during the course of the week or during the course of a day do you pause and pray for someone who you do not know has any specific need and yet perhaps you recognize that they may need prayer at that point? Maybe you don't have any idea what they need, but your fellowship in the Gospel causes you to pray for them, whatever their needs might be. That is part of real fellowship. That is one of the keys to establishing and to keeping real fellowship going.

Let me also ask if you are thankful for those with whom you have fellowship, and if you are praying for them, how often do you stop to tell them that you appreciate them? How long has it been since you have told someone with whom you fellowship, for example, “I really appreciate your fellowship; I really appreciate your interest in me and our common love for Jesus Christ.” You see, that's part of fellowship, and that is the kind of thing that builds and continues fellowship. And so, Paul was thankful for a continuing fellowship.

A Confident Fellowship

In verse 6, there is another aspect of his thankfulness and this is a confident fellowship:

Philippians 1

6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Part of the joy of fellowship was the fact that not only had Paul enjoyed it for the past ten years, but he was confident that it was going to continue. “We have been enjoying this fellowship for the past ten years, and we have every confidence that it will continue.”

Now what is that confidence based on? What is it that we look forward to about this fellowship so much? Is it because we have such a wonderful church, such a snappy pastor and such a vibrant music program and that we are just going to keep coming to this church? Is that what it is? No, look what he says. What is his confidence of fellowship? It's not based upon any human aspect at all. Our confidence of future fellowship is based on something that God has done.

Philippians 1

6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

This is one of the most thrilling verses in the New Testament. It's one that would bear spending a great deal of time on. It has many ramifications, but we can't take the time to explore all of these things that are being said in this verse. Think carefully about the significance of this verse. Have you stopped to realize that we do not really have to live the Christian life? You may react to that in various ways. You may say, “What a relief! Boy, I have been struggling to live the Christian life all this time. I'm glad to know I don't have to.” And there is a real sense in which you should react that way. You see, you don't have to live the Christian life; I don't have to live the Christian life. This verse is one of several places in the Word of God where we are told, “God will live the Christian life for us.”

Strength for the Christian Life

I think that many Christians are struggling through life with their Christian testimony very much like a situation that might be developed if a person had a beautiful new car, and he was very happy with that car, very proud of it, much about it that he liked. And as he had that new car and wanted to make use of it, he would get out in the driveway and he would put it in neutral and he would push it out in the street. Then he would go and straighten the wheels out and get behind it and start pushing it farther down the street. And someone would say, “Hey, what are you doing?” “I want people to see my new car, and I just thought I would take it out for a spin here.” “Why don't you get in and drive it? Why are you pushing it?” “It would be too much trouble to put gas in it and keep the battery charged up and all that kind of thing, but I want everyone to see my new car so I…” Now, of course, someone like that, we would begin to make arrangements to have a checkup for, and then we would think twice before we would go very close to them. That is ridiculous in the extreme, and yet there are many people who approach the Christian life in just that way. “I've got to make some kind of an exhibit; I've got to grit my teeth, and push as hard as I can to be what people expect me to be and to put on a certain kind of appearance.”

You see, on the basis of Philippians, chapter 1, verse 6, that is just as ridiculous as pushing your car down the street so that everybody can see it, because we do not have to live the Christian life.

Philippians 1

6…that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Again and again the New Testament tells us our salvation is not through anything that we have done. One of the most elementary facts that we learn as believers, one of the first things that we learn when we become believers in Jesus Christ, is that we cannot save ourselves. One of the things for which we are so grateful and for which we thank the Lord so much is that He did save us because we could not save ourselves.

Fellowship Based On the Word of God

Philippians, chapter 1, verse 6, is talking about the fact that He that began the good work in us by saving us is going to take care of the living of the life in the same way that He took care of the impossible situation of providing salvation in the first place. And this is why Paul says, “I am confident that our fellowship is going to continue, because it is not based on how spiritual you can be or how spiritual I can be. It is simply based upon our allowing God to live His life through us.” And that, of course, is what is involved in walking by the direction of the Holy Spirit one step at a time, allowing God the Holy Spirit to teach us the information that is in the Word of God, then depending on the Holy Spirit to remind us of the truths that we have learned as we face the various situations in life, as He has promised to do, and then depending on Him to give us the strength to make the right decision, step by step, situation by situation.

You see, we are not depending on our own strength. He who hath begun the work is going to continue. So this is why Paul is able to say, “I am confident our fellowship is going to continue.” You see, fellowship that is based on human relationship has every possibility of failing. Whatever it is that you like about that person that draws you together in some sort of fellowship could change, and that thing that is so attractive about that person might no longer be there, and that kind of fellowship may not continue.

Sometimes even in Christian circles that happens. People attend a church because they like the pastor's personality. They like his humor, maybe. They like his eloquence or the way that he dresses–any one of a hundred different things–and then one day that pastor gets a call to a larger church, and he moves away. All of a sudden, things are just not the same there anymore. The church is just not what it used to be, and things just don't seem the same. So those individuals who built their fellowship on that pastor move away.

Maybe it's not the pastor; maybe it is the music director and the good music program, or maybe it is the activities program, and the gym burns down, and things are just not the same anymore. You see, that is because the fellowship is based on the wrong thing. Our fellowship is based on Jesus Christ and our common relationship to Him, and our fellowship is going to continue to the extent that we continue to allow God to work in our lives and to produce that fellowship. The Christian life is lived by God living through us.

Philippians 1

6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

The Compassion of Fellowship

In verses 7 and 8, he has another praise concerning their fellowship. This has to do with the compassion of fellowship. Notice in verses 7 and 8:

Philippians 1

7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

Now these verses are talking about compassion. These verses are talking about shared love and concern for one another. What Paul is basically saying is that he is thankful for their compassion for him, and he wants them to know that he has compassion for them as well.

In verse 7, he talks about their fellowship with him. Notice what he says: “It is meet for me [it is fitting for me] to be thankful for you, to feel this way about you, because I have you in my heart inasmuch as in both my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. You all are partakers of my grace.”

Notice the phrase, “in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” That little phrase should be paraphrased by a phrase that we use a little more often in this generation. What Paul is saying there in that little phrase is, “I am thankful for you Philippians because you have stuck with me through thick and thin. You have stuck with me through good times and bad.” Like the fellow whose wife was suing him for divorce one time said, “Well, she stuck with me through thick, and that was about it. When thin times came, she couldn't take it.” Paul said, “You stuck with me through thick and thin, good times and bad.” Notice he says, “inasmuch as both in my bonds.” Those are the bad times. It is what Paul was involved in at the time he wrote this letter.

Farther over in the last chapter, he is going to say, “I thank you that you have ministered to me. You sent an offering to me, even while I have been in prison.” And they had done it before. “You didn't abandon me,” Paul said, “when I got in prison. It might have been an embarrassment for people to hear that the founder of your church was in prison; it may have taken some explaining that the man whom you have held up so much before your friends and tried to get people to come and visit your church and hear this guy teach now is in prison. But you have stuck with me. In fact, you have gone to the extent of ministering to me during this time, and as well in the defence and confirmation of the gospel.”

The Confirmation of the Gospel

Think about the meaning of that phrase. Paul was a wonderful defender of the faith. It must have been thrilling and exciting for the Philippians to see him do this in Philippi and to hear that he had done it in Thessalonica and to hear that he was going to do it in Rome. Just to hear him stand as he did on Mars Hill and speak to the philosophers of that day and take their line of reasoning and follow their philosophy and show them that their philosophy ultimately led to the existence of God and point out to them that that God their philosophy ultimately led to was represented in the person of Jesus Christ. That must have been a thrilling thing–the confirmation of the Gospel, the defense of the Gospel.

Then to see as we find recorded in the book of Acts, where even some of the priests of Judaism would believe, some of the chief women of the city would believe, various outstanding people would believe, and great crowds would believe in other places. The confirmation of the Gospel, to see Jesus Christ opening people's hearts–ah, those were good times. Paul said, “You stuck with me in those good times, but you also stuck with me in those bad times.”

You see, here is a perfect example of fellowship. Fellowship is not based on how successful someone is being or how revered he is. It is not just a matter of sticking with him when things are going well. But Paul said, “You stayed with me even in my bonds as well.”

In the last line of verse 7, he says, “Ye all are partakers of my grace.” Now he doesn't mean by that that he had some kind of grace that he was dispensing to them; what he means is that we are all participating in the same grace. I am participating in God's grace to me. The reason Paul says that I am able to do the things that I am able to do is because of the grace of God. I am participating in the grace of God. God makes it possible.

But he says, “You are partakers of that same grace”. The New American Standard version translates that phrase this way: “You all are partakers of grace with me.” So that was what their fellowship was based upon, not that Paul was their guru and the guy that they had to depend on, but their fellowship was based upon the fact that they all knew the same Lord, and they were all experiencing the same things at the hand of the Lord.

The Compassion of Christ

In verse 8, his fellowship with them is described. Notice,he says:

Philippians 1

8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

The word “bowels” is a translation of a word that refers to the emotions. You see, in the time when this was translated and in the time when Paul wrote these things, it was believed that the seat of the emotions was in the bowels. So just as often as we use the term, “my heart aches for you,” they would use the term, “my bowels ache for you,”or “ am greatly stirred in my bowels,” because that was where their emotions were, they thought. So what Paul is saying here, in verse 8, is “My emotions, my compassion, my affection is stirred because of the way you have related to me and because of our fellowship. God is my record how greatly I long after you all with the emotions and the compassions of Jesus Christ.”

Paul, you see, was so close to the Lord that he was able to confidently say, “I have the same kind of concern for you that Jesus Christ has for you. I have the same kind of longing for your welfare that Jesus Christ has.”

Incidentally, that is a great goal to shoot for, that we would be able to come to the place that we would think of others in the way that Jesus Christ thought of others. That is exactly what we are going to see when we get down to chapter 2. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” We should develop this same attitude that Jesus Christ had. He was willing to give us everything He had to meet the needs that we have. I don't want to get ahead of myself. We will discuss that in detail when we get to chapter 2. Right now, the point is that Paul is using himself as an example of that. “I feel the same way about you that Jesus Christ felt about you.”

Husbands can you say that about your wives? Do you know that Ephesians, chapter 5, says that is the way that we are supposed to love our wives?

Ephesians 5

25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Did you know that that is the way we as parents are to feel about our children? Did you know that is the way that we as evangelist are to feel about the lost? Paul was able to say, “I have the same compassion, I have the bowels of Jesus Christ. I think of you with the same kind of compassion that Jesus Christ felt.”

I say that is a worthwhile goal. That is something that we should ask God to make true in our lives as husbands, as parents, as witnesses, whatever situation God has placed us in.

Petitions In the Prayer

Let's notice the petitions in this prayer. Up to this point in verses 3-8, Paul has listed the things that he is thankful for. Now in verses 9-11, he is going to tell them about the things he is asking for in the prayer. After voicing his appreciation for them and telling them that he is praying for them, now he is going to tell them exactly how he is praying for them. There is a lesson in that. It is one thing to tell someone that you are praying for them, and something even more important to tell them exactly how and what you are praying for them.

A Fuller Expression of Love

Paul had three specific things in mind as he prayed for the Philippians. First of all, in verse 9, he is praying for a fuller expression of love. Notice:

Philippians 1

9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

Notice he doesn't pray that they will love him more; he doesn't even pray that they will love Jesus Christ more, but he prays that their lives will be characterized by love. Not so much that the object of their love will be more important, or that their love will grow, but that their love will be evident in every area of their lives. “That your love may abound.” Then notice a very, very important point in verse 9. There are two characteristics of this love, in verse 9.

Philippians 1

9…that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

One of the things, I am convinced, in the Christian world today that is most misunderstood is this concept of love. The Charismatic movement has contributed a great deal to our misunderstanding of the concept of love. The flower children of a few years ago contributed a great deal to our misunderstanding of the concept of love. But there is nothing in the New Testament that should cause us to misunderstand it. The New Testament speaks over and over again of love. Jesus spoke over and over again of love, but so often we fail to stop and see just what they said about love. So often we tend to put our own definition on love.

Love Characterized By Knowledge

Here in Philippians, chapter 1, verse 9, is an example of the kind of thing the Scriptures say about love. It is not just a matter of being sweet to everybody and overlooking everything they do. Notice what it says in verse 9:

Philippians 1

9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

Love, you see, is not just winking the eye to anything anybody does and never being willing to cross with anybody, and just trying to put up with anything that comes along–the gentle Jesus, meek and mild stuff that we hear about sometimes. That is not love. That's not the New Testament kind of love.

Look at this: “That your love may abound in knowledge,” and of course the only knowledge the New Testament talks about is knowledge of the Word of God. Real godly love is characterized by knowledge of the Word of God. Did you ever stop to think about that? How can we love what God loves if we don't even know what He loves? The Word of God reveals to us the mind of God, and the kinds of things God loves, and the way God loves. Our love should be characterized, and Paul was praying that it would be, by knowledge, that we not love indiscriminately, that we not wind up loving something that God doesn't love, and that we not wind up hating something that God really doesn't hate.

This is a very important point to keep in mind. We cannot love properly if we do not know the Word of God. We might wind up being very enamored, very taken, with something that God really disapproves of. “That your love might abound in knowledge and in all judgment.” The word “judgment” is a word that means “moral discernment.” It is similar to knowledge, but it is more along the lines of using the knowledge that we have.

What he is saying is, “I am praying that you will learn the Word of God so that you will know what to love and then that your judgment will also be developed so that you will have the godly wisdom to know where to draw the line.” If you carry this to its logical conclusion, this is almost the opposite of what a lot of folk think of as love. “Oh well, we don't really agree with this fellow's doctrine, but we need to love him for Jesus' sake. He may believe that he can cast out demons, and he may believe he can raise the dead, but after all we need to be loving.” That is not what the Bible says. The Scripture says to learn what God's view of things is. Learn what God loves and what God hates, and then ask God to develop within you the moral discernment and the gumption to love the things God loves and to take a stand against the things that God hates. Knowledge and judgment–characteristics of love.

A Finer Evaluation of Life

Very quickly, moving on to verse 10. He prays not only for a fuller expression of love, but for a finer evaluation of life:

Philippians 1

10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

“That you may be sincere.” That is a translation of a Greek word that means “clear in the sunlight.” What he is saying is, “That your lives may be transparent with nothing to hide, that when someone holds your life up to the light, they can see it like it really is.”

I will never forget the time I had a new car–one of the few times that I had a new car–and I couldn't wait to wash it the first time it got dirty. It was late in the day when I started washing it, and by the time I got through, it was dark. But I thought, “All I lack is to wash the windows, and I'll just go ahead and do that in the dark.” You know, I was so surprised the next morning at what a poor job I had done washing those windows after dark. They looked pretty clear to me in the dark, but when I got up the next morning and saw them in the sunlight, they had streaks all over them. They were smudged. There were smudges that I had missed in the dark.

God says, “People are going to hold your life up to the light, and your life should be clear in the sunlight. I am praying that your life will be sincere without offense.” How does that come about? “By approving things that are excellent.” The word “excellent” is a translation of a word that means “things of the utmost worth.” God has given each of us twenty-four hours a day. Each one of us has the same amount of time, and yet as we look around, we see some people accomplish a great deal more for the Lord than others do. At least one of the keys to that is that some are learning to approve the things that are excellent.

An interesting statement is made sometimes: “The good can be the enemy of the best.” Paul is saying, “I want you to approve and to invest yourselves in the best. Don't get bogged down in the merely good. Use your time for the Lord Jesus Christ for those things which are excellent.”

A Fuller Expression of Righteousness

And finally, in the last part of verse 10 and in verse 11, a fuller experience of righteousness. Notice he says:

Philippians 1

10…that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
11Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

“The fruits of righteousness.” Now that is tied in with what we were talking about a few minutes ago, the matter of the sincere life, the life that is clear when it is held up to the light, God's standard of examination. But here is the same thing that we saw back in verse 6. How do we have a life that is sincere and without offense? It is clear in the sunlight of God's examination, and it is without offense to men who look at our lives. How is that accomplished? In verse 11:

Philippians 1

11Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, [which are by living a good moral life, which are by being careful that you never do the wrong thing. Is that what it says? No, the fruits of righteousness] which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The kind of life that is an expression of righteousness is a life that has stood the test of being examined in the sunlight. It is the kind of life that is produced by walking in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ and having the fruits of His righteousness produced in our lives as a result of obeying His Word, step by step, day by day, by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

These, then, are the things that Paul was praying. He was thankful for them, but as well as being thankful for them, he had three specific requests for them. They are good requests for us to have for each other and for ourselves: a fuller expression of love–love that is characterized on the one hand by knowledge and by judgment, discernment; a finer evaluation of life and approval of things that are best and not being satisfied with things that are only mediocre, for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ; a fuller experience of righteousness, the righteousness that is produced by Jesus Christ Himself.


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