And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,Philippians 1:9-10
Occasionally in the Paul’s letters, he writes out his prayers. This is one of the prayers he prays for the believers in the city of Philippi.
His prayer is that their agape love would abound more and more. But how would this unconditional, Christ-like love grow in them? He prays that their love grows in two areas: knowledge and depth of insight.
The word here in the Greek for knowledge isn’t gnosis, which is the standard word. The word here is epignosis, which means “knowledge gained through first-hand experience or relationship.” Paul didn’t want them to amass more information and think that was going to grow their love. What they needed was personal relationship with Jesus, first-hand encounters with the Holy Spirit that helped them gain more knowledge about who God is and what He is like.
The Greek words that form the phrase “depth of insight” are the words for “all or every” and a word that means “perception, understanding or discernment.” Literally it could be translated “every perception.” The root of this word for “perception” is used when Jesus tries to tell His disciples that He is going to be crucified.
While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it…Luke 9:43-45
The disciples did not grasp it. They could not understand it. They couldn’t perceive the reality of it. This is the same word used in Paul’s prayer when he prayed for the Philippians to have “insight.” The way that they will grow in their love for God and for other people is if they can grow in their understanding, depth of insight, and perception of the truth.
Love is not the fullness of itself unless it is combined with understanding and truth. We’ve seen enablers perpetuate the addiction of their loved ones and call it love. We’ve seen domestic violence victims protect their abuser from criminal prosecution and call it love. Everything that feels like love and looks like love isn’t always love. We need our love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight in order for it to really be love.
And we see this happen on so many issues today to well-meaning Christians. In their attempt to be loving, they leave behind knowledge and depth of insight. In doing so they limit their ability to be “able to discern what is best,” what is “pure and blameless.”