Abounding Love

Phil.1:1-11

 

Someone has observed that the church at Philippi must have been Southern because,  in the first eight verses of this text, Paul uses the old southern expression "you all" some four  times. Those of us from the South, and accustomed to using that expression, ought to feel a litter closer to the apostle as he also uses that old southern expression "you all"  or “ya’ll”.

 

Verses 9 and 10 of Philippians 1, will  introduce our lesson

 

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;

 

 Most of us  enjoy the reassuring lessons that we hear from time to time on God's Great Love.

 

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.   John 3:16   and again.  8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

 

But here Paul speaks of the love of these Christians at Philippi:

 

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;

 

As we study this book we are impressed with the fact in this short epistle Paul offers no criticism.  The letter is an unbroken line of praise from the salutation to its close. I recommend the study of this book, for it is one encouraging  us to go forward and lay hold on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

 

Please allow me to illustrate this point — I read from Philippians 4:4

 

4Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

 

The best way I know to be encouraged is to replace the negative thoughts we have with positive ones. Can you think of better advice than that of Verse 8? 

 

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

 

 

Notice next, that Paul is a man who believes in prayer.  verse 3-5

 

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;  

 

Paul was thankful to God, for their fellowship in the gospel. Fellowship is a from a Greek word “koinonia” meaning a joint participation, a sharing together.  When we hear of fellowship today we think in terms of food and fun.  But these are only a small part of fellowship.

 

The specific fellowship to which Paul refers in Philippians 1:5 is their financial help in the spread of the gospel.  The Philippians had sent a monetary gift to Paul by the hands of Epaphroditus.  Paul expands on this later in the book,  (Philippians 4:15-18)

 

The brethren at Philippi had supported Paul from the very first.  He (along with his co-workers) were invited into the home of Lydia, the first convert in Philippi, (Acts 16:15) The Philippians continued that support while he was in Thessalonica  and also in Rome (Philippians 4:10-18). May we have more congregations that are willing to support works in the mission fields. And let us pray for our mission workers.

 

Paul undoubtedly had a long prayer list. It seems in all his  letter to the churches: He writes I am  praying for you.  Notice the words of Romans 1:8-10 as a sample of what I am saying.

 

8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;  10Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

 

Paul taught us that we should likewise be a praying people in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read

 

16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.

 

Again  in Colossians 4:2

 

2Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; 3withal praying for us also, that God may open unto us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; 4that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

 

We live amid hostilities, we need daily to pray for each other and Christians around the world. Can you imagine the profound impression it must have made upon these Christians at Philippi when these words were read.

 

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

 

 Paul says I pray for ya’ll..  You know I appreciate the prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Often I hear the one who leads our prayer,  mention my name along with the elders, I covet your prayers. If you want to be an encouragement to me, tell me "Brother Cope I mention you in my prayers,  I pray for your health  and your labors here at Chestnut Mt church". 

 

Paul writing to the evangelist Timothy  1 Tim 2:1-4

 

1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

 

Let us obey this injunction: let us  be aware of the Lord’s church, our nation, our service men, our youth. 

 

As I have pointed out, the church of Philippi  was a good congregation, no rebukes, only encouragement and instruction unto righteousness.  And yet in verse nine, Paul prays  that  their love may abound.  Philippians 1:9

         

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

Did they love one another? Surely, there is no rebuke offered, only this prayer for them: As Peter wrote to those who had endured persecution and scattered:   1 Pet 1:22-23

 

22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

 

Here these had a Philadelphia, brotherly love, and Peter tells them to go beyond that to agape love,  a sacrificial and caring love.

 

The Christians at Philippi had an agape love for one other, but Paul is praying that it may abound more and more. The word abound carries idea of overflowing, growing . Love grows or becomes stagnated .. Thus let your love abound, grow and flourish

 

 

 

 

Notice again Philippians 1:9 Paul prays their love may be characterized by: 

 

9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment;    10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

 

Knowledge and Judgment, are essential to discernment, and discernment to “approving”. The word approve dokimavzw "to test, to put to trial, to discern."  Discernment and judgment are very important to me as a Christian, for there are things that I am to love and things I am not to love.  

 

For instance in 1 John 2:15 we are admonished:

 

15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

 

Conversely as a child of God in Colossians 3:2 I am told to:

2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  

 

But notice further —

                                                           

9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; (discernment)  10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 

 

Sincerity , so essential to the Christian’s life.

There is nothing more contemptible than hypocrisy in the lives of people, especially God’s people. Jesus rebuked it every time He saw it. "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. "

 

There should never be a glimmer or shadow of hypocrisy  among God's people. We should be the same at work on Monday that we are in worship on Sunday.  James describes the wisdom that is to adorn the Christian.  James 3;17

                                                             

7But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 

 

What a reflection on us when on the Lord's Day we put on our pious faces, greet a brother with a warm smile and handshake and then turn around and as the forgetful hearer:   we never consider his state of affairs, or spiritual condition.

 

full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy

 

I heard of a preacher who was in a meeting, told of a lady came out shook his hand and bragged tremendously on his lesson, "One of the finest I've ever heard". She walked away a few steps met another lady,  who asked her, "How did you like the sermon tonight?"  "Well"  said she," frankly I've heard much better". To which the first lady replied to her, "Yeah it was one of the worst sermons I've ever heard."  Yet her comment to the preacher was "One of the finest I've ever heard"

 

Now for someone to act and talk like that is a total disregard for the prayer of Paul.

 

9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; (discernment)  10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 

 

 

I read this  poem somewhere:

A careless word may kindle strife, A cruel word may wreck a life:

A timely word may lessen stress.  A loving word may heal and bless.

 

Other Scripture tell what these the objects of my love is to be  Matthew 22:35-30 we read:

 

35Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

 

We are to love God, and our love is to abound. Consider this important question?  What does it mean to love God? 

 

Well it means more that saying that we love God.  The apostle John writes:

 

 18My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

 

There is a way that we can express our love for God, and that is in obedience to His will. 1 Jn 5:2-3

 

2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 

 

Notice further   1 John 2:4

 

4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

 

A lady once asked her preacher if he could tell her what was the greatest sin one could commit.  "Yes, but first can you tell me what is the greatest commandment?" To which she quoted as best she could the Lord's statement, Matthew 22:37-40 —

 

 And the preacher replied if this is the greatest commandment would it not follow that whoever violates this commandment is the greatest sinner?   

 

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets

 

Christ is to be an object of our love-  1 Corithians16:22

                                                           

22If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha.       Accursed, the Lord cometh.

 

Strong language.   Do we love the Lord? I turn to John 14:15..21…23

 

15If ye love me, keep my commandments….21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him… 23If a man love me, he will keep my words:

         

Now let us answer that question? Am I keeping His commandments…. all of them? 

 

We often hear people talking of this commandment or that commandment being non-essential, You can search the Bible from cover to cover and no where will you find the expression "non essential" command.  That is not speaking as the oracles of God.  

 

When we see people laying back, haggling over whether that is essential or not,  Beloved you can put it down, they don't really love the Lord, He is not the 1st affection of their heart.

 

22If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha

 

May Our Love For Christ Abound More And More

 

And finally, our love for the church of our dear Lord should abound more and more.  Now do we really and truly love the Church?  We know Christ loved the church, not by words but by what He did.

Ephesians 5:25   5Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 

 

How much did Christ love the church?  If Christ loved the church enough to die for it, surely we should love the church enough  to give ourselves in sacrificial love and consecrated service to it.

 

We sing the beloved hymn

"I love thy kingdom Lord, the house of Thine abode

The church our blest Redeemer saved, with His own precious blood.. "  And then we come to the second verse 

"For her my tears shall fall, for her my prayers ascend

To her my cares and trial be giv'n Till trials and care shall end. "

 

Too many sing that at 11 o'clock worship, but many are conspicuously absent when the saints assemble at 6pm and on Wednesday to sing about their love for God and things sacred and solemn.

 

 You know, I don't have to say it, if we loved the church, we would attend her assemblies. I used to be a member of the USSTA I attended every weekly meeting,  drove to Atlanta to do so. Why?  I loved it and enjoyed it.          

We show our love for the church Jesus died for by not forsaking the assembly  (Heb 10:25) and we'll not be asking and arguing about whether it is essential or non essential. I know people who would like to have an assembly on Friday, they say it is too long a time from Wednesday until Sunday….   

 

Can we say with the Psalmist? Psalm 122:1-4

 

1I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. …..

 

If you were to ask me what is the outstanding need of the Lord's church…  There are many needs in the church…. but one above all else is love.

 

8And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins.  (1 Peter 4:8)

 

The New Testament gives us barometers of  the love we should have.  We are told to give preference to one another Romans 12:10

To edify one another Romans 14:19

To care  for and forgive one another  Colossians 3:13

Comfort one another, 1 Thess 4:18 

Pray one for another  James 5:16

         

Jesus loves you and gave Himself for you! Do you love Him?