The accepted thinking on genuine love today is that you should overlook others’ wrongdoings by not mentioning them and other people should overlook yours or that you should accept others in spite of how immoral they may be and others should accept you no matter how immoral you are. But like so many other beliefs and philosophies in our world, this concept of love that the world tends to promote is the opposite of what the author of love, God, actually says it is. Paul gives us the conditions under which love thrives as he spoke by the power of God’s Holy Spirit in Philippians 1:
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Verse 9 lets us know that true love thrives and becomes abundant when there is ongoing communication with the Lord, when we grow in the knowledge of God and his word, and when we let the godly knowledge we acquire in our relationship with the Lord affect our judgment in a positive, God-pleasing way. The judgment spoken of here is the spiritual discernment God gives us that we then put into practice to discern between what’s right and what’s wrong by his loving standards through faith. As 1 John 4 says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
Verse 10 explains why we should continue increasing in godly love that grows in our godly knowledge and spiritual judgment. True love, when it teams up with knowledge and spiritual discernment, helps us to embrace whatever is considered excellent by God’s standards. God doesn’t want us to settle for anything less than the best when it comes to our action or inaction, our character, how we interact or avoid interacting with others, or how we interact or avoid interacting with him. This is why he took great pains to tell us what he likes or doesn’t like throughout the New Testament [Mark 7:20-23; Acts 15:28-29; Romans 1:18-32; Revelation 21:8, et al.]. When love, godly knowledge, and judgment all work together, they all cause each other to increase inside the believer and lead the believer to a life of sincerity and integrity that helps them avoid offending God along their spiritual journey even up to the day they stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Verse 11 gives us the end result of the abundance of Christian love that occurs in godly knowledge and spiritual discernment. We, the believers, become filled in our hearts with the fruits of righteousness that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ [Galatians 5:22-23]. As the Lord Jesus so eloquently told us in John 15, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” When we become spiritually fruitful in our hearts with fruit that manifests itself outwardly and that impacts our surroundings, that fruit we bear serves to give glory and praise to God. None of this can happen without a spiritual attachment, a relationship, with the Lord Jesus.
Contrary to popular belief, true love isn’t blind, stupid, or non-judgmental. It promotes clear sight, the acquisition of more knowledge through prayer, study, meditation, and practicing God’s word, and prompts us to pass judgment to embrace what is spiritually, morally right and to reject what is spiritually, morally wrong. Groups and individuals in our world lacking these things and opposing those who hold these principles reveal the true nature of their spiritual state.
Harry A. Gaylord