Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 1

Love with wisdom

Philippians 1:9

The Christians at Philippi were sincere people who showed great love. However, perhaps they did not always act wisely. Perhaps their deep love caused them to accept teachers who did not teach the truth about Christ (3:2). Perhaps they failed to recognise those people who only wanted their love in order to take advantage of them (3:17-19).

Christians should always act in love (Mark 12:29-31; 1 Corinthians chapter 13). So, Paul approved of the fact that Philippi’s Christians showed such love. In fact, he even prayed for their love to increase more and more. However, he recognised in his prayer that they needed wisdom. He described that wisdom in two ways: knowledge, and discernment.

Paul’s word for knowledge refers particularly in the Bible to knowledge of God, and knowledge of what is right and good. Christians need to choose intelligently when to show love, and to whom (compare Matthew 7:6). They can only make those decisions well if they have a proper knowledge of God.

Discernment means the skill to recognise whether something is right or wrong, good or bad. A person may have great knowledge and intelligence, but still constantly make wrong decisions. That person lacks the practical skill of discernment.

So, Christians need both knowledge and discernment as they carry out their acts of love. Many people choose when to show love simply by their emotions, and they make foolish decisions. Instead, a Christian’s knowledge of God should inform those decisions and then discernment, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, should direct that Christian’s actions.

Next part: Love that carries out God's work in our world (Philippians 1:10)


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