After his greeting, Paul introduces his prayers for the Philippians. It begins in Philippians 1:9, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…” Paul desires their love 06 river2for each other to grow or abound more and more. Verse 10 introduces us to the reason for his prayer for them, “…so that you may approve what is excellent.” Love is the river! The boundaries of the flowing river of their love are knowledge and discernment. I’d think knowledge applies to facts and discernment or understanding is the appropriate application of facts, truth, to life situations. The Old Testament calls this “wisdom.” Love channeled between truth and understanding is the most excellent way to live. Job’s friends had lots of truth, but no understanding of Job’s life situation. The modern liberal movement in major religions today that approve of sinful lifestyles has a lot of “understanding” but no truth. But true love, channeled between truth and understanding brings “excellence” to the life of believers.

The word “approve” what is excellent in this passage might be translated as “discern.” Paul wants us all to be able to channel our growing love between truth and understanding in order to know the best course of action to take in all our relationships with fellow believers. It’s only in the current of a properly channeled river of love that we can find the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

To experience this excellent life as we grow in our love for each other we might ask ourselves these questions as we attempt to discern the right thing to do or say in every relationship. 1) What is the most loving thing? It’s not what is best for me. It’s what’s best for others. The first fruit of excellence is love. We must start there. 2) What will result in the greatest joy? What makes everyone happy? Avoid win-lose solutions and seek to find win-win solutions to all relationship problems. 3) What’s the best resolution to bring peace to all parties? How can peace be established and maintained? 4) Am I ready for the long haul? It often requires mature patience to deal with complicated relationships and we must be committed to continue working and waiting for God’s resolution. 5) What is the kindest way to deal with this issue? It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance and restored relationships (See Romans 2:4). 6) What am I giving of myself to heal the breach in fellowship? The Spiritual fruit of “goodness” deals of generous living. It’s more about what I give than what I get. 7) What’s the most gentle way to deal with it? How can I demonstrate gentleness in this situation? 8) Is my response demonstrative of faith in God and reliance on His Spirit to act? How do I keep from taking control of the situation on my own? 9) Finally, what about my own selfish attitudes and interests must be controlled? How do I exercise godly self-control in the relationship? The answers to these questions will give our love boundaries and enable us to express it with both knowledge and understanding.