Last week, we began a study of Philippians 1:9-11 as a “blueprint” for how we, as Christians, can bring glory to God.
This “Path to Glory,” as it is presented in this particular section of Scripture, is a 5-step process. Step #1, as Paul states in verse 9, is “that your love may abound more and more.” In other words, an active, growing, and overflowing love for God, for each other, and for others is the first step in bringing glory to God.
But as we noticed last week, love – by itself – may not be enough to bring actual glory to God. There are lots of “loving people” in the world (at least, by some standard of love) who are not pointing anyone to God.
So what is the next step? Let’s keep reading…
STEP #2: KNOWLEDGE AND DISCERNMENT
Paul says, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…”
What does Paul mean by this, and why are these two things such an important “next step” in this process?
According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the word translated “knowledge” means, “precise and correct knowledge; used in the NT of the knowledge of things ethical and divine.” This is, in fact, a compound Greek word (also translated “real knowledge” or “fullness of knowledge”) that is something beyond basic knowledge. The word means, “to fully perceive,” according to Vine’s, and this would certainly be a reference to a spiritual knowledge of God and His Word.
This same word is used in Romans 10:2 to describe a group of people (the Jews) who had a “zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” In other words, they may have been a very loving, active, sincere group of people, but they were misdirected because their knowledge was incorrect or incomplete.
Several weeks ago, I was at home with our two youngest children (my wife was at our homeschool co-op with the oldest two), and something very scary happened: I went outside to get the mail, and my youngest daughter (who is 2 ½ years old) locked me out of the house…using the dead bolt.
I did not have my keys or my phone with me, and I had no way of getting back into the house. My only hope was to try and talk my very young daughter through the process of unlocking the door that she had just locked.
Sounds simple, right? Wrong.
It may have been easy for her to LOCK the door (and she was quite proud of herself for doing it), but UNLOCKING the door, as it turns out, was not something that she had much “real knowledge” about. As I tried to explain to her how to unlock the dead bolt, she proceeded to simply turn the doorknob back and forth and say, “I can’t do it.” I could hear her frustration as she tried to do what I was asking her to do, and I’m sure that she could hear mine as I tried to explain it.
This went on for a VERY long five minutes, and I had visions of having to break a window to get back into my own house.
Meanwhile, our youngest child is sitting in his high chair, waiting for me to finish feeding him, and my poor daughter is in tears because she can’t seem to do what I’m asking her to do.
Finally (and most likely, accidentally), I heard the dead bolt “click,” and I was able to get back into the house. She WANTED to let me into the house the entire time; in fact, she never left the front door as I coached her on how to do it; but she simply didn’t KNOW what she needed to know. It did not matter how much she LOVED me in those moments; she just couldn’t figure it out.
This is why “real knowledge” is so important (and this is also why you don’t ever walk out of your own house without your keys when your mischievous 2 year old is still inside). Without precise and correct knowledge, we don’t know what God expects from us. We end up “fumbling around” with our lives like spiritual 2 year olds when we don’t have “fullness of knowledge.”
Closely associated with this “knowledge” is this next concept of “all discernment.” The Greek word used here means, “perception, not only by the senses but by the intellect; of moral discernment in ethical matters” (Thayer’s Lexicon). This is a step beyond mere knowledge, isn’t it? This is the ability to make distinctions and decisions; this is spiritual maturity.
This is the same reason why it only takes me approximately .75 seconds to unlock a dead bolt: not only because I knowhow to do it, but also because I’ve doneit a thousand times already.
This idea also appears in Hebrews 5:14, where the Hebrew writer says, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernmenttrained by constant practice to distinguishgood from evil.” This is a process, and the process leads to bringing glory to God!
To sum up these first two “steps” towards bringing glory to God:
- We must have a growing, abounding, and overflowing love towards God and others
- This love must be based on correct knowledge, and the maturity and wisdom to use that knowledge properly
When these things are in place, we are poised to move onto STEP #3 in this process: APPROVING WHAT IS EXCELLENT.
Join us next week as we continue this study together, and may God bless you as you strive to bring glory to Him!