And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
He had spoken of praying for them. This was the purport of his prayers: "And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and in all discernment."
I. THE INCREASE OF LOVE THE MAIN THING IN RELIGION.
1. The language implies the existence of this love as well as its imperfection. It had been manifest in many ways; but there were social rivalries and jealousies and disputes at Philippi. Therefore the apostle prays that their love may abound more and more.
2. absolutely that he speaks of, the grand principle, the motive power of Christian life. Matthew Henry says it is the law of Christ's kingdom, the lesson of his school, the livery of his family.
(1) It is Divine in its origin, for "love is of God;"
(2) it is the principle of the Divine indwelling, for "he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him;"
(3) it is the spring of all holy obedience, for it is "the fulfilling of the Law;"
(4) it is "the bond of perfectness;
(5) it has no metes or bounds like law, for we are to love with all our powers. The gospel lays the believer under a weightier line of obligation than the Law; for we are not to do this or that particular duty prescribed by the Law, but to do all that we can do through the constraining force of the love of God.
3. It is love fed by knowledge and guided by judgment; for it is to abound "in perfect knowledge and universal discernment."
(1) Knowledge here is the thorough grasp of theoretical and practical truth.
(a) This is needed to feed love. We cannot love an unknown person; we cannot love an unknown gospel; we cannot love one another except so far as we know one another. The more we know of our blessed Redeemer the more shall we love him. Love is not a blind attachment.
(b) It is needed to regulate love. Love without knowledge may lead a Christian into mistakes, irregularities, improprieties, like a foolishly fond father who spoils his child. Love may waste itself on worthless or frivolous objects, or it may attempt impracticable projects by unwarrantable means; but if knowledge be the guide, these mistakes will be prevented.
(2) The love is in "all discernment." This is more than knowledge. It is more even than the application of knowledge. It is that discriminating power, which enables a man to appreciate the true nature of things presented to him in the sphere of religious realities.
II. THE ENDS ACCOMPLISHED BY A LOVE THUS REGULATED.
1. Christian capacity to discern excellent things. "That you may be able to prove things that are excellent." Love, rightly guided, penetrates through all disguises of error. It is, in fact, a mighty preservative against error. The Christian is able "to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." He does not lose sight of the true proportions and relations of truth. But the spiritual capacity of believers is found to differ like the natural capacities of men. Some are very deficient in the power of spiritual discernment, yet this may be mainly due to the weakness of love. Those who are strong maintain the tranquillity of their own mind, and will be a stay to the timid and the weak. Cecil says, "A sound heart is the best casuist."
2. Sincerity. "That ye may be sincere." Love, rightly guided, brings out the deep reality of Christian character, and presents it in a holy simplicity without stratagem, diplomacy, or manoeuvre. A sincere man has all the strength that springs from an undivided heart: his love is without dissimulation; his sincerity is a godly sincerity, which realizes the impossibility of uniting the interests and pleasures and pursuits of the present world with those of true religion.
3. The absence of offense. "And void of offense." It seems hard to be so in a world to which the gospel itself is an offense. Yet, though we are not to compromise the principles of the gospel, we are to live peaceably with all men, to take wrong rather than give offense, to have a good report from them that are without, to be "blameless and harmless as the sons of God." The duration of this temper of sincerity and inoffensiveness is "against the day of Christ " - the day of final account before the Judge, as if to imply the undeviating consistency of a life thus divinely ordered.
4. Positive fruitfulness in Christian life. "Being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which is by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." There is more needed than mere harmlessness: there must be a positive development of Christian life.
(1) The fruit of righteousness. The righteousness is not of nature, but of grace; it is not of the Law, but of faith; and is essentially fruitful. Therefore those who possess it are "trees of righteousness," and the quality of the tree is known by its fruit. The whole system of redemption has for its end to make men "fruitful of good works."
(2) This fruit is by Jesus Christ, because it is bound up with the life of Christ. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me" (John 15:4).
(3) The end to which all is directed - "to the glory and praise of God." The glory is the manifestation of God's grace, the praise is the recognition by men of God's attributes.
(4) It is implied that believers are to be "filled" with the fruit of righteousness. Not a branch here and there, but all our branches are to be loaded with fruit. Thus there will be the more glory and praise to God. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;