Are You Willing To Love: Philippians 1:9

Published March 10, 2014 by

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight…”

Philippians 1:9

Being a part of Bible teaching and disciplining believers will convince you that the only, not just primary, way to know God is to read the Bible everyday and spend time in prayer. As a teacher I will often ask people how their spiritual life is going and they will respond by measuring their Bible and prayer time. If they are reading and praying they are doing ‘good’. If they are not reading and praying they still say they are ‘good’, but the awkwardness gives the truth away.

On top of that, I’ve met more than a few people who are knowledgeable of the Bible, can tell you where most citations are, and have huge, leather-cover Bibles… but may also have anger issues, their marriages are falling apart, they are highly critical, and come across as spiritual bullies.

The path that leads from knowing about the Bible (regular devotions and study) and spiritual growth (becoming like Jesus) is not always straight. Jesus even said that the greatest distinction of His people would be that they love one another. (John 13:34-35) I am not saying devotions are unimportant; I love the Bible, I study it with ferocity. I pray every day, for people and for issues in my life. I’m also aware of how we can come to know God in other ways alongside Bible study.

Paul’s prayer for the Philippians begins with a hope that their “love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” The ‘knowledge and depth of insight’ may come from reading God’s word and meditating on it for our lives, but love doesn’t attach itself in our lives without actually loving others. In other words, learning more about love will not make us better at loving.

Dallas Willard often gauges how his spiritual walk is going by answering two questions:

  • “Am I growing more or less easily irritated these days?”
  • “Am I growing more or less easily discouraged these days?”

These questions will allow us to discover if we are (as Jon Ortberg says) one the one hand “Selfishly Unloving”, or on the other hand, “Radiantly Loving”.

We hear people say all the time, “I need to go deeper in my walk with God.” Some have criticized the church for not having enough depth of teachings and sermons … I believe that the church should be passionate about understanding the depths of Scriptures. I also believe that a person can experience the depth of the work of Jesus by helping those who are in need, loving their enemies.

Let’s be honest, we are not lacking in ways to give people more information about the Bible. My question is, how many Beth Moore bible studies, spiritual gifts tests, small group studies, sermon series presentations is it going to take before we start putting some action and application to what we already know?

The question I’m asking myself, and others, today is “How willing are you to love?” This may be a more honest place to start than “how is your Bible reading and prayer time going?”

Prayer

Father, I’m praying for myself and all those in my immediate and church family …Help us love each other as we love ourselves. May the Holy Spirit, who has poured Your love into our hearts, give us Your selfless love, for our love falls far short of the mark. May we submit ourselves to one another—considering others more important than ourselves, putting others’ interests ahead of our own. Help us to treat each other the way we would want to be treated in every circumstance.

Tom Renew

Deeper In To God’s Word

Resources:

1.     Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives

2.     Jon Ortberg, Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus

3.     Joe Skillen, Imagine The Kingdom

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