Wouldn’t it be nice if you could focus on one thing and both improve your life and the lives of those around you? Many of us pursue a better life through various means such as diet and weight loss, a different job, a change in relationships, relocation to a different city, among other ways. Often what we find is that after we have tried again, there is very little change. The reason for that begins in you. We look and pursue a better life through circumstantial change rather than personal change because we assume our circumstances are the problem.
Let me give you hope today that improving your life and the lives of those around you is possible. If you learn to focus on this one thing it will help your day initially and then will benefit others.
So what is it?
The Bible says, “Let your love abound more and more” (Philippians 1:9-11). In the book of Philippians, Paul helps his readers understand true joy and how to rejoice in adverse circumstances. Early in the book, he connects joy in life to growing in your love. You could say, one of the secrets to improving your life is to let your love grow.
Here’s the full passage:
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
In what context should your love grow?
Essentially, the Apostle Paul identifies two areas in which your personal love should grow more and more. 1) In your personal relationship with Christ (knowledge) and 2) practical wisdom (all discernment).
Your Personal Relationship with Christ (knowledge). In order to grow in love, we must know the God of love, in other words, to understand His love. As we experience knowing God through Christ in an intimate way, we learn Christ’s love. He sacrificially gave His own life to benefit others (Phil 2:6-8). He considered the needs of others (us, those who needed salvation) as greater than His own (giving up the glories of heaven to live as a servant on earth, ultimately being obedient unto death).
The more we focus on Jesus Christ and walking with Him every day, the better we understand Him and His love. As we grow in love with Christ and know Him better, we learn what it means to love sacrificially. We begin to have the same mind as Christ (Phil 2:5). The more we think like Christ, the greater our capacity to let our love abound more and more.
Practical Wisdom (all discernment). Practical wisdom is the ability to apply what you know in particular life situations. You have the insight and skill to take what you know and express it in situationally appropriate attitudes, words, and actions.
As you walk with Christ and grow in knowledge of Him, you take what you know about Him and have experienced with Him and apply it in particular circumstances. Two decades ago it was popular to ask, “WWJD – What would Jesus do?” Although this became a cliché, the idea fits this passage well. When you are faced with decisions, you consider Christ and seek to apply what you know about Christ in the particular incidence.
What is the purpose and result growing in knowledge and all discernment?
The goal of knowing Christ more and seeking to apply that knowledge with all discernment is to evaluate carefully what is best in a particular situation (“that you may approve the things that are excellent”). To approve something means to test it, to determine if it is legitimate. This term was often used when someone would test gold. The question becomes, “Is this best or excellent?”
Discernment moves past the simplest question of “Is this right or wrong? Is it a sin?” to “Is this best now in this circumstance?” Discernment helps you get past just what is merely good. Instead, you seek to ascertain what is best or excellent.
Why? You seek to determine what is best in order to live life with pure motives (sincere) and without offending others around you. In the various life circumstances, you maintain sincere motives and a holy lifestyle that does not offend God or other people around you because you determine the best response to have based upon your understanding and experience of Christ (knowledge) and how that applies here and now (all discernment).
Your Improvement Helps Others!
In the process you live a life full of righteous fruit. With a sincere heart and a non-offensive lifestyle, you make decisions that reflect Christ. Paul uses the illustration of a tree full of good fruit as the sum of all your godly decisions. You choose to apply what you know about Christ in the midst of particular circumstances seeking to determine what is best from a sincere heart committed to non-offensive living. The result: righteous living.
How is this possible? Paul says it is possible because Jesus helps us live this way. We make the right choices in Christ that produce righteous fruit. Those around us, who live life with us, enjoy the benefits. Each time decisions are made out of a pure motive, concerned about what is best, based upon our knowledge and experience of Christ, the people around us benefit. Their lives are improved based upon our excellent decisions in Christ.
Our love grows more and more because it is informed by our knowledge of Christ and applied in specific ways that ultimately benefit those around us. In the process, we bring honor and glory to God. Your day will be improved as well as those who around you.
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