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 so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11

Some of us can be far too content with a bumper-sticker mentality that defines our faith in a single, catchy phrase. While such slogans may provide glimpses of what it means to be a Christian, there’s no way a few words can comprehensively sum up Christianity. On the other hand, a person can know all about the Bible’s contents and have a great grasp of complex doctrinal points, and still lack an intimate knowledge of God Himself.

Paul understood that true Christian faith is much deeper than either of these approaches. He therefore prayed that his readers’ love—their agape, the self-giving love of Christ—would develop in two ways: in knowledge and in discernment.

In these verses, the word for “knowledge” refers not merely to a knowledge of the head but also to a knowledge that is only possible as a result of God’s self-disclosure: a cohesive intimacy with Him, similar to the intimacy that is built within the bonds of marriage. When we enjoy this kind of love, we enjoy the privilege of being able to say, “God, it says in the Bible that You will show Yourself to me. Please show Yourself to me!”

Yet Paul also prayed for discernment. He knew that love can go badly astray unless it is directed properly through perception and the ability to make a moral and correct decision. We can err greatly with the best of intentions. The insight we need comes from studying and knowing the Bible. As we cultivate and live in God’s presence through His word, we become more like Him. Our thoughts and feelings conform to the way He thinks and feels. And so, in addition to loving God and therefore wanting to do what is right, we know in the various circumstances of our lives what doing right actually looks like. Are you, then, praying for the joy of this kind of intimate, wise love for God—and praying for it not just for yourself but for other believers too?

Each new day is an opportunity to commit yourself again to becoming fully mature in the Lord Jesus, allowing the clarity of God’s love and the truth of His word to deepen your knowledge and sharpen your discernment. Each day is an invitation to go deeper into your faith and to grow more in love for your God. And, as your love flourishes, so will your life be full of the true goodness that brings glory and praise to Him.

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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.