What do you pray for people who are already strong in the Lord? Paul gives us an example in his prayer for Christians in Philippi. As he introduces his letter, he speaks fondly of the church—he joyfully thanks God for them because they have embraced the gospel with all its implications. They are a good work in process. But that does not make prayer unnecessary. Paul prays for greater things and for them to stand firm in faith to the end.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Phil. 1:9-11)
There can never be too much high quality love! So Paul prays for their love to abound in real knowledge and deep insight. I’m challenged because it is so easy for love to be little more than a feeling, ebbing and flowing with the situation I’m in. Those two qualities help put legs on love and set it walking in the right direction, wise and practical. Paul saw this maturing in Christians just down the road in Thessalonika—their love and faith were growing.1
That prayer for love begins a journey through several other topics. Wisdom-filled love will lead to them approving what is excellent. The sense is of carefully testing things and accepting the very best. In so doing, believers will stand firm in faith until Jesus’ return.
We will come to Paul’s main prayer objective in a minute, but he also anticipates them being filled with the fruit of righteousness. The Amplified Bible calls it right standing and right doing—inner righteousness expressed. Both come through Jesus’ work for us and in us, and result in God’s glory and praise.
Paul’s main concern is that Christians endure with two vital qualities until the day they meet Jesus face to face. The word “sincere” translates a Greek word meaning pure or unmixed. Blameless means without offense. That is what God chose us for prior to the foundation of the world—it’s part of the Christian destiny.2
No matter where we are in our walk with the Lord, there is a long way to go to reach that destiny. Our capacity to love is always being tested. A barrage of non-excellent things threatens to bowl us over and spoil the fruit of righteousness. Our goal is to stand firm in faith to the end and all of us need prayer for that. But Paul’s prayer is far from hopeless—it is packed with faith that God is committed to answer and to accomplish all His purposes in us.
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