READ PHILIPPIANS ONE
Yesterday we reflected on the first aspect of Paul’s prayer of petition for the Philippian believers. Today, we’re going to look at the second two.
Remember, here is the outline we are working with:
“And it is my prayer…”
- That your love may abound
- More and more
- In knowledge
- In discernment
- That you may approve what is excellent
- And so be pure
- And be blameless
- For the day of Christ
- Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ
- To the glory and praise of God
After praying for his friends to grow in love along with knowledge and discernment, Paul prays that they might “approve what is excellent.”
What do you think it means to approve what is excellent?
How might this prayer be related to first prayer for an increase of knowledge and discernment in love?
Some translations rightly translate this short phrase this way: “that you might discern what is best.” Paul’s prayer for the believers is that they will have the discernment to know what is absolutely essential to life in Christ, that they will understand what excellence in the life of spiritual development looks like, and that they will keep these things directly in front of them.
Why does Paul say he prays these things for the believers? What is the end goal?
Paul prays that the believers will discern what is excellent or best so that they ultimately might be made pure and blameless when Christ comes again. This is the ultimate hope of every Christian – that one day our Savior will return and finally and fully establish His glorious Kingdom. And in that day we want to have been made ready and made like Him. Paul prays that the believers might know what is excellent by discernment so that they might be made more like Jesus until He comes again.
How might the Lord be asking you to grow in approving what is excellent so that you might be pure and blameless?
Finally, Paul prays that the believers will be filled with the fruits of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.
How is this related to his previous prayer that they will approve what is excellent?
Ultimately, Paul’s burden in prayer for the believers is that they will look more like Jesus. He wants their lives to be enveloped in the righteousness of Christ that God might get the glory in their lives.
What does Paul’s prayer reveal about the substance of spiritual friendships?
How can your prayers for your spiritual friends look more like this prayer?
Spiritual friendships are different than acquaintances or casual friendships that we have with others. We might share interests, spheres of influence, or communities with others – and this is a good thing! But spiritual friendships are set apart in this: the end goal is for all of us to look more like Christ. Spiritual friendships have the unique place in my life and in yours of pointing us to the Gospel. Praise God!
PRAY & REFLECT
Spend some time praying for the spiritual friendships in your life. Pray through Paul’s prayer on their behalf. Ask God to give you a burden for your friends to look more like Christ because of your friendship.