Summary: We need to pray for one another the way that Paul prayed for the Philippians.
Sunday, January 20, 2002
I fell bad this morning - last Sunday I said that it would be worth experiencing trials in order to learn the kind of joy that Paul speaks of in Philippians. I just never thought that the trial would happen to my wife. . . (she broke her arm ice-skating)
This morning we want to get into a very, very meaty section of the first chapter. In it Paul prays for the Philippians and whenever we encounter a pray of Paul there is always something worth following up.
1. Paul’s heart for the Philippians 1:7-8
Paul has a deep concern and abiding love for the Philippian Christians. He was their spiritual father - he started their church. This isn’t the disinterested prayer of a casual acquaintance, but the passionate prayer of someone who loved them deeply.
What would Paul pray for the church that he loves so dearly?
2. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians 1:9-11
a. The heart of the prayer 1:9
At first glance this prayer might seem to line up with so much of the philosophy of our world. What the World needs now is love sweet love.
But love in our world too often means something quite alien to the biblical concept.
Romantic love - starry eyed, emotional response to a member of the opposite sex
Selfish love - I will love you as long as you continue to make me feel good and as long as you continue to meet my needs.
But as you look at Paul’s prayer you realize that the love that Paul is speaking of is much different.
Biblical love is an act of the will, not the emotions. It is love that is based on knowledge and discernment. Those two modifiers tell us that this love is based on an intellectual choice. Biblical love is a commitment. A decision to make the other person’s best your first priority. A man comes into my office and says "I don’t love my wife any more." The Bible says that what he is saying is "I won’t love my wife any more."
Biblical love is according to the truth. You cannot claim to love someone in the way the Bible says if at the same time you are violating the truth that the Bible teaches. If you are having premarital or extramarital sex, that’s not biblical love. If you are being dishonest to maintain the relationship, that’s not biblical love. If the so-called love that you say that you have is causing you to compromise your biblical principles - it’s not biblical love.
1 Cor. 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
b. The purpose of the prayer 1:10-11
discernment - literally - so that you may approve the things that are excellent. Discern what is best. The word here that is translated discern comes from the Greek word which was used for the testing of metals. The metal was refined so that the impurities could be removed and only the best - the true metal might be left. When we love according to knowledge, Paul says that the result will be that we will be able to drain off the impurities and discover the valuable that remains. It is not always a choice between what is bad and good. Sometimes it is between what is better and best. EG. Last Sunday night - each ministry is passionate about their area - but sometimes what is good for your ministry is not what is best for the church as a whole. The biggest conflicts in my history here have been in this better vs. Best.
That you may be pure and blameless - the flip side of verse 6. Verse six - security - when Christ starts a work he finishes it. This verse and the next picks up on the perseverance of the saints. Those in whom Christ is truly working will desire to present themselves pure and blameless to Christ. Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ. Those in whom Christ is working will abound in knowledgeable love as fruit of that relationship. No feet up attitude - Jesus is working in me so I don’t have to do anything. If Jesus is working in you then this is what you will be doing with your life. A changed life is the practical assurance of salvation that we have.
There is a popular book on the market today that comments on a biblical prayer. At the end, the author says that if you will read his book once a week for a month and pray this prayer every day you will get the same results he did. That borders on a magic formula not a prayer. If you really want to pray a prayer every day, how about this one? Will you pray for each other that our love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.