Summary: To discuss Paul's prayer for Philippi. This should be our prayer for this congregation in all earnest and sincerity. That it abound in love and grace; approve of things that are excellent; and abide blamelessly until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. That they abound more in love
2. That they approve things excellent
3. That they abide without offense
1. The apostle Paul held a great regard for the Philippians church. While in prison he prayed for them. His prayer was one of concern and the love of a father for his children. Like the Corinthians these where "his children in the gospel," 1 Corinthians 4:15. Paul was praying for them that they might abound in Christ and in their love for each other, and all mankind. Prayer changes things. Any church leadership or minister who can pray for the church; will not likely stray from its best interest at any time. This church supported Paul throughout his ministry; from his first visit into Philippi until Timothy’s last visit with him during his second imprisonment in Rome, weeks before his death. The church at Philippi loved Paul not just in words, but in deeds and in truth. This is our prayer for this church!
2. First, he prays, "That their love may abound yet more and more." Love ought to abound; or overflow like a flooding river whose banks are overflowing into the surrounding fields and forests. He wanted them to abound, "more and more" ever increasing; ever growing to influence the lives of those far and near, friends or foes. He wanted their love to abound toward God, in their Lord, in him and each other.
3. Second, he prays, "That their knowledge and judgment might be more fruitful." In knowledge, that they may learn the difference between right and wrong; good and evil. In judgment, that they might be able to make the right decisions in matters of faith and doctrine. That they may approve of things that are excellent. Every Christian should aspire for these same qualities. That the church might be able to discern between “good and evil” through the preaching and teaching of “sound doctrine.”
4. Finally, he prays, "That they might be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ," or the coming of the Lord from heaven. Christians ought to be sincere, they ought to be genuine. They ought to live, that their lives are good examples to those inside the church and in the world. They ought to walk without fault or offense every moment of their lives. The preacher, "that the ministry be not blamed," 2 Corinthians 6:3. The members, "that their manner of life, may be as that which becometh the gospel of Christ," Philippians 1:27. The leadership, that they “hold fast the faithful word as they have been taught,” Titus 1:11. If this prayer is ours, both privately and public; we can be worthy subject in the kingdom of God, the church of Christ. With this, let’s consider our first point: “that they may abound in love more and more.”
BODY OF LESSON
I THAT THEY ABOUND MORE IN LOVE
A. Paul prayer for Philippi was one of great concern and sincerity. He wanted the Philippians not only to love, but to abound in love, more and more.
1. Illustrate: A swelling river as a result of rain. The mighty Mississippi!
2. Overflowing, running everywhere to enrich the land and fields surrounding it.
3. He wanted them to be “rooted and grounded in love,” Ephesians 3:17-19.
B. He desired the same thing for the Thessalonians. Notice: "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one towards another, and towards all men, even as we do towards you; to the end he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints,” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13.
C. Love ought to abound and grow. Paul desired the Philippians to grow up into Christ as mature Christian. Jesus describes the order and direction of love, Matthew 22:37-40. Notice our Lord:
1. Upward, to God. John: “And we love Him because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:19.
2. Outward, to others (family, brethren, friends, and even our enemies). Notice John as he instructs us to love the brethren:
a. Love is sacrificial. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
b. Love is sharing. “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” Love is what love gives! If we are unable to give ourselves unto the Lord; we will never give of our substance in a sacrificial manner, 2 Corinthians 8:5; 2 Corinthians 8:9.
c. Love is sincere. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but indeed and in truth,” 1 John 3:16-18. Don’t just tell me that you love; show me! Some use great swelling words, but there is nothing in their behavior.