“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10).
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul writes of a knowledge without love. Here in Philippians it is suggested that it is possible to have love without knowledge.
Paul here assumes that love is normal for believers. He prays that their love might abound more and more. He also prays that this love be accompanied with knowledge and all discernment.
There seem to be two reasons for this discerning love:
1) So that we may approve what is excellent.
2) So that we may be pure and blameless.
These two reasons are close together. If we have love without discernment, we may end up approving things we should not approve. If we approve what we should not approve, we will not be blameless.
One of the reasons that love sometimes occurs without discernment is because love does not have a precise definition in the minds of those doing the loving. Discernment might mean seeing things which are not pleasant nor approvable. Discernment might means disapproving, and, to many people, “love” does not allow for disapproving. Love becomes gooey and sweet and, consequently, sticky and messy.
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Written November 1978.