Paul opens the book of Philippians with a prayer of thankfulness for all of the sacrifice and gifts the Philippians sent while he remained in prison. When remembering his friends in Philippi, Paul is filled with joy because of they’re co-labors in the gospel of Christ. Not only that, but Paul states the great hope that we all have in Christ, “That He who began a good work will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (1:6)
Although joyful for their gracious gifts, Paul begins addressing the needs of the Philippian Christians—a need that we all share. Paul’s prayer is that their “love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and discernment” (1:9). Yet notice how he qualifies this idea, “so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (1:10)
The Bible is clear: love one another. Yet, while doing so, we must seek knowledge and practice discernment. God has provided several resources to help with this. First, He has provided His Word, our source for truth. Secondly, He has provided us with an opportunity to pray and receive answers. Romans 8:26 encourages us that God’s Spirit intercedes (prays) for us. Even when we don’t know what to say, when we pray, the Spirit helps us in our prayers. Likewise, the Holy Spirit indwells believers and offers peace when the way seems unclear. Lastly, God offers Christian community through local churches to help in times of need. Anytime we might ask, “What should I do,” somebody in the church has probably been there before. The Church is filled with people of all ages and stages and if you need to practice love, gain knowledge, or practice discernment, you can usually find the help you need in the walls of the Church.
Why is this important? Too often we give approval to things that are anything but righteous. Sin begins with disagreeing with God about what is right. If we do not pursue love, knowledge, and discernment, we cannot accurately see with God’s eyes. God wants our best and has given us everything we need to have it. Remember, this is not the best according to the world’s standards—Paul was in prison after all—rather, it is the best according to God’s eternal plan.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate