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Philippians 1:8-9 "For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is Pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment."

The Apostle Paul points out to the Philippians that God is watching… “God is my witness” is a sobering statement when we stop and think about the God of creation, our maker, is watching. He sees and knows everything. This is the reason we should be transparent when we pray. It is impossible to hide things from God, even the things we hold deep in our hearts and minds. Praying honestly is to our benefit. God uses such a time of honesty to show us things that we haven’t noticed or thought about. God already knows, and His promise is that He is there to help us when we come to Him in honesty and ask. Knowing He is watching should encourage us to strive for excellence in everything we do.

Paul continues with “how I long for you ALL” in this verse. It seems to me that, knowing what I do about human nature, that Paul might be stretching the truth a bit here. How could he miss ALL the Philippians that were a part of the church there? Surely there was that one man or woman that got on his nerves, was that constant complainer, a gossip, a pest… there are a lot of ways and opportunities to grow a disdain for someone. But the apostle Paul doesn’t stop with the simple statement of longing for them, he also explains how he accomplishes such a feat— “with the affection of Christ Jesus”. I know that I find myself needing help to love some people from time to time; well, every day honestly. In my day-to-day dealings with people, I feel my patience and love growing thin and even completely wearing out at times. And it doesn’t even have to be people that I know. There are people that fall short of my lovability standard on television news, the internet, traffic; the truth is I probably identify more people in the hard-to-love or unlovable category each day than those I can say I love. I need to use Jesus’ perfect love instead of my broken love.

Verse 9 begins a new sentence but is a continuation of the theme of love. Paul tells the Philippians that his prayer is that their “love abound… in real knowledge and discernment”. Sometimes when trying to understand scripture I find it helpful to identify the opposite word or thought in a verse or phrase. An example here would be, “REAL, not FAKE, knowledge and discernment”. We must realize that there are very few if any time that we have ALL the facts about any given subject, including a person. We are left to be discerning with limited knowledge. Such a revelation leads me to realize that for my “love to abound still more and more” I need genuine, complete knowledge, and qualified discernment. This comes only from Jesus Christ.

- Are you transparent with God in your prayers, knowing that He already knows how you really feel, and what you really did?

- Are there people in your life that are unlovable at times? Could you use Jesus’ love instead of your own to love them?

- Do you seek the knowledge, wisdom, and discernment of Jesus Christ in your relationships?

Father of grace and mercy, lead us in our relationships with others. Help us to strengthen our relationship with you so each decision we make is filtered through your knowledge and discernment and wrapped in Your perfect love. In the beautiful name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.