Isaiah 23-25 Philippians 1
“This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and will choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ; that you will be filled with the good things produced in your life by Christ to bring glory and praise to God.” (Philippians 1:9-11 NCV)
Paul had some of the most beautiful prayers for the churches he wrote. As he prayed for those in the church of Philippi, his first thought was to pray that their love would grow. Then he prayed that they’d have wisdom to choose the right way between good and evil so that they could be pure and prepared for the coming of Christ. Finally, in this section, he prayed that their lives would be filled with those good qualities that will end up in people glorifying and praising God. While this was written to the church as a whole, an online source mentioned that “you” in these verses is plural, we should take these verses to heart as individual members of our own churches also.
It’s important to remember that Paul guided churches, and their also, to seek God’s direction for them. Too often, especially these days, Christians seem to read the Bible to see what “they” should do. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ seem to think that the best way to show others the nature of God is to yell at them for their sins. It’s interesting that I don’t remember Paul telling people to do that. I don’t even remember Jesus attacking anyone but the religious elite for their sins. Paul’s message to the Philippians was that people who know Christ should love more and more and that they should live pure lives. We share the good news of Jesus because people are lost in their sins. When we focus on their sins, people get defensive. When we focus on how much God loves them, they’re more than likely to bring out their own sins by saying something like “How can God love me when I …” It’s a funny thing, but people are a lot harder on themselves the more love we show them. When they convict themselves about their sin, then we need to show them even more love. As they experience God’s grace through our love, we’ll see more people commit to following Jesus. Our strength, as followers of Christ, is found in our love and commitment to Him.
Lord, I’m so tempted to tell everyone else why they’re wrong. Don’t let me fall for that temptation. Instead, help me to do a better job of living, showing, and telling everyone why You are right and that You love them.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.