Philippians 1:9-11(ESV): 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
As I continue my daily reading of Philippians, I find myself confronted with these challenging questions:
- How do we gain “knowledge” and “discernment?”
- How can we keep ourselves “pure” and “blameless” in anticipation of Christ’s return?
- How can we be filled with the “fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ?”
For me, knowledge and discernment is found by making time for God, by having a quiet time to read His word and to pray. This time for me is in the morning, while it is still quiet and before my mind begins to wander in many different directions. I have to focus and be very intentional about making God a priority as I begin my day. It never ceases to amaze me how I will open up my Bible to a certain passage that I wouldn’t normally go to and how that passage can be used by God to give me knowledge and discernment. Quite often, God gives me a certain knowledge and discernment that I will need for that specific day.
Paul expressed this same idea in his letter to the church at Colosse: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
Why did Paul want the church to gain spiritual wisdom and understanding? He answers that question in the next verse: “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:10-12).
We live in a sinful, fallen world! That statement should not come as a surprise to you. For us who are believers, we must recognize that fact and we must constantly be on guard for anything that will cause us to stumble on our daily walk with God. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), however, we can certainly repent of our sins and ask God for help in overcoming sin, especially those sins that we seem more prone to repeat. We can pray that God will work within us to help us discern the best choices to make so that we can be an example to others of how to live a life that is pleasing to God.
What does a life look like that is led by the Holy Spirit and has been “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ?” Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, answers this very question. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:22-26).
God has been so merciful to me and he continues to show me mercy even though I am not worthy of His mercy and love. As the song below so beautifully exclaims, because of your (God’s) mercy, I’m overwhelmed by you!