I’m not particularly predisposed to clichés. I don’t like smart one-liners that say a lot but mean little. And the topic I find that has the most clichés is love. ‘Love is the answer’; ‘Love will find a way’; and so they say. But what exactly is love supposed to find the answer to? And where exactly is love heading that it has to find a way?

So imagine how I felt when I read these verses.

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

Oh no, there’s that dreaded cliché again. But if we look closely, we see that there is something more. When our love abounds in ever increasing measure, we gain the ability to approve the things that are excellent, we become sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Not only that, when our love abounds, we will be filled with the fruits of righteousness. In a nutshell, the more we love, the more intelligent we get, the more righteous and perfect we get (if there is ever such a thing in the English language), and we will be filled with more good character traits. I don’t know about you, but I want in on that. And if you are like me, then let’s take a closer look at why love is so powerful in the Bible.

First, let’s look at what it means for our love to abound.

“And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight,” Philippians 1:9 [AMP]
We know that our love abounds when our love is displayed in greater depth. Now, this is not about being able to serenade our loves ones, nor about being romantic with our spouses. No, it is very clear how our love is to be manifested. Ours is to be

“…a love that is full of knowledge and wise insight” Philippians 1:9 [PHILLIPS]
It could be wise advice, insight and revelation that is given for the betterment of the person receiving it. It could be correction that is given timely, gently, without malice nor intent to hurt, but for the sole purpose of bringing the recipient back onto the straight and narrow. Or it could even be help rendered through actions that are done not to show up, but to lift up.

Whatever it is, such love manifests itself in help given to build up, encourage and edify others who are in need of direction and correction; and these words of wisdom, or actions of assistance always meet a practical need. Essentially, when we love, we

“…not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush.” Philippians 1:9-10 [MSG]
And when we are able to express such practical and appropriate love on another, a love that builds up and encourages, we know that our love is abounding.

But why do it? What’s in it for us?

“so that you may learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin];” Philippians 1:10 [AMP]

This discussion will involve rather intangible matter, so let me instead illustrate with an example.

Men, when you meet a lady who is experiencing trouble in the home, suffering abuse from her husband and losing control of her children, do you;

a) try and get her the help she needs through counselling and family protection channels; or
b) tell her that you can give her a better life and have her elope with you?

Parents, when your child misbehaves and causes grievous hurt to another in school, do you;

a) allow your child to face up to the consequences whilst counselling your child on his actions and the reasons why his actions have consequences; or
b) fight tooth and nail with school management, in front of your child, to keep your child from being punished so that you always come out looking like a loving parent?

While both options are love manifest, and both options are render help, assistance and advice that have practical benefits, not all options are ‘excellent’, there are moral differences, and not all options will leave you pure and blameless until the day of Christ, because not all options let you lead others away from sin.

Beloved, when we love, it’s not about coming up with all the answers, it’s not about being the solution. When we love, it is all about doing all we can to lead others away from sin.

But that doesn’t mean we do that from our moral high horse either. It means understanding the person, appreciating the situation and then, gently, through the discernment of what is excellent and good, lead the person away from sin whilst they are still in their situation. For in the end, we know we have loved, loved well and loved appropriately when others can see that we are

“filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God [so that His glory may be both revealed and recognized].” Philippians 1:11 [AMP]

Beloved, the best way to understand love is to look at love from Jesus’ perspective.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

Love is sacrificial. But because love is sacrificial, because love is truly about loving well, loving appropriately, loving with your head and not just your emotions, loving in a sincere and intelligent way (Philippians 1:9-10 [MSG]) it also makes us see just how much we have been loved, for how can we give, unless we have been given; so how can we love, unless we have been loved?

Jesus said it best,

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

And how did Jesus love? Sacrificially, wholeheartedly, but also gently, practically, and always with the intent to lead them away from sin, for didn’t He always end each encounter with a sinner with ‘therefore, go and sin no more’?

When we love one another in the same sacrificial, wholeheartedly, selfless manner, we remind ourselves of just how much we are loved by our Father, so much that we can pour out a mere portion of that love on another. And when we purposefully lead others away from sin, wouldn’t we too be led away from sin and into the fruits of Christ’s righteousness?

So do you want to be wise? Do you want to be able to discern what is excellent? Do you want to be pure and blameless till the day of Christ? Do you want to be overflowing with the fruits of Christ’s righteousness? Then love one another. Gently provide the advice, insight and help that will practically lead others away from sin and as you lead, you too will walk into the abounding fruits of His righteousness.

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