Love that Builds
Sentimental feelings and nice emotions can be described as love, but they are neither the essence of love nor its purpose. True love only works when it is rooted in a full and clear understanding of the facts and is devoted to building others up in the truth (1 John 3:1-3). Without knowing what is true, the power of love will become misdirected and fail to achieve its objective. And this is especially necessary when it comes to loving somebody as special as God.
Paul loved the people in the Philippian church. They received the gospel, surrendered to Christ and became partners in the missionary work. But they were still 'work in progress' (Philippians 1:6). Their love for the Lord had to go on being informed by knowing what pleases Him (Ephesians 5:10), if they were to make decisions which fulfilled His purpose. Therefore, Paul's prayer was that their love for God, God’s people and God’s gospel would multiply as they become hungry to know more of God, and His purposes.
Paul’s prayer comes from his deep desire that the Philippian believers will get on track, and stay on track, for that face-to-face interview with Jesus, when He returns (Romans 14:12). He longed that their transforming lives would become fruitful for Jesus Christ, even though it may involve some suffering (John 15:1-4; Philippians 1:29). Those end points of Christian character are gained by the work of Christ in their hearts, and by them making right decisions. As they learnt what pleases the Lord, they would also become discerning about lifestyle choices. As they chose what He wanted, they would be working in sync with their Saviour – in a love bond that built them up and built His kingdom.
Alas, there are many competing values in a secular world, seeking to invade the Christian's mind. That is why followers of Jesus must test the purity of each thought and impulse against God's 'gold standard'. When we do that, our lives will become full of what is right. They will also become transforming influences for others, and a glory to God each day and when He returns. That is a very big aspiration, but the way to start is to pray: pray these things for yourself, and pray them for others too. As we pray, God works in our hearts to change us from the inside. He also helps us to make the sort of decisions which please Him. This is especially valuable at work. If you have a workplace Christian prayer group, do join in. God's power is unlimited and when we ask him to act, just see what He will do, and observe how the godly decision-making brings God’s blessing.
© Dr Paul Adams