Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Today, we look at Paul’s prayer for the Philippians. He says:
I pray that your love may overflow more and more
with knowledge and depth of insight
and that you may discern what is best,
so that you may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,
having produced a harvest of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
to the glory and praise of God (Phil 1:9-11).
When Paul prays for overflowing love, does he expect that love to come from the heart or the mind or the intuition or the will? Trick question. We live under God’s command to love him with heart, soul, mind, and strength, so all our faculties make a contribution to love.
I think Paul understands this when he prays for the Philippians to grow in love.
He wants to see love that overflows. Under the influence of wine, my behaviour overflows into sleepiness. Under the influence of rain, rivers overflow their banks. Under God’s influence, our hearts overflow with love. The request is not for love to be better informed, more rational, or more carefully planned and managed. It is for love to overflow, to be life and energy, to express itself widely and freely. Like new wine, busting old wineskins.
Jesus talked about the overflow of human hearts when he said, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, and slander” (Mark 7:21). In Jesus’ view, sin is a state of the heart, not just a set of behaviors. Bad behavior overflows from a bad heart. On the other side, Paul says good behavior flows from a loving heart, so he prays that our hearts will overflow with love.
Paul also prays that this love will be shaped by knowledge and insight. Love is the feeling and the motivation, but our motivation needs to consult our minds and respect our intuitions or insight.
The New Testament uses the word “agape”, meaning “love”, in a way that illustrates this.
Jesus used the word “agape” to complain that some of the Pharisees wouldn’t acknowledge him because, “They loved the praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:43). Their “agape” love was misguided, because they preferred human praise to divine. Their knowledge and intuition told them that social respect and allegiance to their religion was more important than acknowledging Jesus.
Paul also used the word “agape”. Writing from his lonely prison cell he said, “Demas has deserted me, because he loved this world” (2 Tim. 4:10). Demas acted a love that led him to abandon the soon-to-be-executed Paul in favor of a safer and more comfortable life in the world.
Someone else who loved the world was God. Of him, John says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16). This version of “agape” love expresses itself in giving.
Our father, Paul prays that our “agape”, our love, will overflow with knowledge and insight. Not like the Pharisees’ fearful love, hiding from Christ behind their culture and religion. Not like Demas, running from Paul’s trouble for the safety of a secular city. Fill us with your love, our God, the wise and unselfish love with which you loved the world and gave your son.
Jesus said he brought light into the world, but people loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19). Help us to run from the shadows of our dark hearts. Help us to run to your light, O Christ. May our hearts overflow with love, in knowledge and depth of insight.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.