Sunday, 14 February 1999 00:00

My Prayer for the People of Emmanuel

Philippians 1:9-11 (KJV)

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ: Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The prayers of Paul are always well thought out, theological, not merely emotional, and full of practical insight. This prayer is from the heart of a pastor for his people. At first glance, this prayer might seem to contradict, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." Why pray? If God is going to do the work, why not just sit back and watch?

  1. The Bible is full of these apparent contradictions (Philippians 2:12).
    The sovereignty of God does not negate the responsibility of man. Obey Him!
  2. Paul is anxious that these people might enjoy fully their relationship with Christ.

  1. Notice where Paul prays. He is in prison in Rome awaiting trial for preaching the gospel.
    1. He is in prison; but he is happy.
      We must never forget that Paul had learned how to be content regardless of his state. The Christian gospel never says "Cheer up" because everything is all right, but rather the gospel enables a person to overcome difficulties and have a hope that is within.
    2. He prays that his people might have the same experience.
      Notice he does not pray that their circumstances be removed, he prays for them in the midst of their difficulties, and he prays while he himself is in the midst of trial.
  2. Notice what Paul prays.That his people might grow in love, knowledge, and judgment.
    I believe verse 9 is the actual petition, and verses 10 and 11 are the reasons for the petition.
    1. Love for Christ requires proper knowledge of Him.
      Pure emotional commitments in revivals, rededications, and renewals will soon fade. Love for Christ will abound when His people learn the great eternal truths of Scripture. Those lacking in knowledge are most frequently thrown off balance in the Christian life. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Corinthians 2:12).
    2. Pure theological knowledge without love leads to pride.
      "Knowledge (alone) puffeth up" (I Corinthians 8:1). Love and knowledge balance out. Does your understanding of God lead to a great love for the Lord and His people?
    3. Knowledge and discernment (judgment) are two different things.
      A man may be knowledgeable of the Word, but he also must be wise in life. You may know all there is to know about child rearing, but do you discern when to act? My prayer for you is that your love may grow with spiritual knowledge and discernment.
  3. Notice why Paul prays.He prays because of his desire that their lives glorify God.
    1. "That you may approve things that are excellent" literally means "things that differ."
      The idea is of a Christian who has the ability to sense "that which is vital." There is nothing worse than a Christian getting worked up over things non-essential.
    2. "That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ"
      That one who grows in love, knowledge and discernment will be a transparent leader.
    3. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Christ Jesus"
      This is a beautiful picture of the Christian abiding in Christ, and Christ in him.

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