We often say that our “love grows.”
When we put these two words together, we generally mean that we want our feelings of affection increase or that we want the bond felt between us to become stronger. We recognize that a loving relationship isn’t a static, one-and-done feeling, that it does develop…but I think we’re a little squishy when we try and describe exactly how this happens.
Sure, we’ll say that love grows in a variety of ways: over time, through shared experiences, and being together in the ups and downs of life. If you talk to others about growing in love with their spouse, their closest friends, or with a group of people, what is usually identified as the main driver of growth seems to be surviving a long time without abandoning one another.
In his letters, Paul often told his readers that he was praying for them, but it wasn’t a generic “I’ll be praying for you” platitude. He didn’t just ask God to “help” them with their “stuff”. We’re going to take a close look at not only what Paul told the believers in Philippi that he was praying for them, but also the reasons Paul gave for making his specific prayer requests.
So for starters, let’s look at the beginning Paul’s prayer request:
And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment
Immediately, we see that Paul wants their love to grow in two specific areas. We’ll take a look at the outcome of this kind of growth in a later post. First we need to understand what he means by knowledge and every kind of discernment.
The Greek word for knowledge refers to a full, intimate understanding of a subject. Similarly, the Greek word Paul chose for discernment speaks to how we perceive something or someone. The word refers to something deeper than just a sensory perception – sight, touch, smell – instead this discernment relies on the intellect.
Blind love or a love that is dependent upon our emotions is not ground for the growth of a relationship. As our feelings ebb and flow, we can end up doing more harm then good.
True Christian love isn’t shallow or squishy. It is grounded in an clear understanding and has an intelligent direction. This shouldn’t surprise us, because, after all, that’s exactly how God loves us.