When you think of the word “love” what comes to mind?
Our culture has painted a picture of love being primarily romantic, emotional and causing happiness.
Of course, all of those things are part of love, but they do not provide a full and complete picture of how God wants us to love.
Sharing his prayer for the Philippians, Paul expresses his desire for how the Philippians should grow in love:
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” -Philippians 1:9-11
Notice that Paul prays that their love would abound – not in depth of feeling or emotion – but in knowledge and insight.
Does that seem peculiar to you? Why does Paul emphasize knowledge and insight as ways to grow in love?
Think for a moment about your emotions. In the last week where have your emotions been? Have you felt happy, sad, angry, frustrated, apathetic or energized? Often our feelings can fluctuate to great highs and lows. While our feelings are God-given and we shouldn’t stifle them, we should learn to manage them in a wise way.
Because our feelings can lead us astray, this is why Paul encourages the Philippians to grow their love by knowledge and insight.
How to Abound in Love
Consider this for a moment: when you develop a love for someone it’s a result of getting to know them. In knowing that person you learn about them, you understand why they tick, you become familiar with their motivations, their desires and their habits. It’s only through spending intentional time with that person that you know them and can grow your love for them.
This is exactly what Paul is alluding to when he prays for the Philippians to grow in their love by knowing the Lord.
Jen Wilkin summarizes this idea so well in her book Women of the Word when she said, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”
Friend, to love God is to know Him! We know Him by reading the Bible, praying, being obedient to His commands and trusting His ways.
When you know the Lord, your understanding of His commands and His ways matures. This is how you grow in your depth of insight: by knowing God and gaining a deep understanding of who He is and how He works.
Once knowledge and insight are paired together the overflowing result is a deep and abiding love for the Lord.
The Fruit of Wise Love
A biproduct of such love is discernment. To be led by knowledge and insight which results in discernment is such a wonderful way to love! It’s a pure, more authentic love.
Approaching relationships and decisions with discernment aligns our hearts with God’s. It helps us love like He loves. It also demonstrates wisdom by caring for your heart and the hearts of those around you.
If reading this today fills you with sorrow because your love hasn’t been marked by knowledge or insight but instead has left scars, know you are not alone. We have all stumbled in the ways in which we have loved, but we are not without hope.
Jesus, who began a good work in us will carry it to completion (Philippians 1:6). We have the opportunity to start fresh because He stands waiting to forgive our shortcomings. Approach the Throne today and ask Jesus to help you grow in your knowledge and insight about Him. Then, as you continually grow in knowing the Lord, watch as the Holy Spirit takes that seed and produces a harvest of discerning love.