“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” ~Philippians 1:9
What causes your love for somebody to grow? We say if we spend more time together we’ll grow closer. The more we’re with each other, the more we learn about each other, the more we love each other. Something like that. Having a history with someone helps. Some common experience. Some common interests. Maybe we root for the same basketball team. Maybe we enjoy the same hobbies.
But Paul takes us to something so much bigger and better here. “…in knowledge and depth of insight.” Not in knowledge of your fellow Christians. Not depth of insight into what makes church people tick. I don’t love you more because I discover your love for roller coasters or that your uncle and aunt were some of our best friends when we lived in Mesquite. No, Paul’s talking about spiritual knowledge. Depth of spiritual insight.
I’ll never be able to love you the way Paul calls me to love you until I grasp just what it is God is doing for me in Jesus. When I’m able to comprehend that the Holy Son of God left his heavenly glory at the right hand of the Father in heaven to suffer and die for me; that I am saved; that I am rescued from the clutches of hell by the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus; when I get it, that Jesus willingly gave up everything he had to forgive me and serve me; then my love for you is never based on what you can do for me or on what we can do for each other. It’s grounded firmly in what God is doing for me in Christ Jesus!
We’ve heard it said that “love is blind.”
Christian love is NEVER blind! Christian love abounds more and more, it grows, it shows itself in sacrifice and service, it impacts people because it sees clearly the love Jesus has for me. Jesus’ love informs and gives shape to my love for you. Paul’s talking about a way of thinking about each other, seeing each other, treating each other, ministering to each other, a way of loving each other that’s based on a knowledge and depth of insight into what Christ has really done for me. Sacrificial service. Uncompromising loyalty. Abounding love.
I always forgive you because Christ always forgives me. I make sacrifices for you because Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice for me. I serve you because Jesus served me. I give in to you, I submit to you, I defer to you because Jesus went to the cross for me. He died for me while I was his enemy. He buried my sins at the bottom of the ocean floor. He removed my transgressions from me as far as the east is from the west. My friend, you don’t owe me anything. You owe me nothing. And I’ll never, ever demand anything from you. I can’t.
How can Christ’s love for me NOT be the same love we have for each other?
When it is, then we’re able to discern what is best (Phil. 1:10) for our church family and for the relationships within the church family. There’s not a situation or a circumstance or a problem that could possibly come up that we can’t navigate correctly when everybody abounds in love. And when decisions do need to be made and lines do need to be drawn, we err on the side of tolerance and grace. We err on the side of sacrifice and service. We err in the name of spiritual growth. We err in the way of love.