Perfection In Love Provides Discernment For What Is Good
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Paul was given, as part of his gifting by the Holy Spirit, a heart to see the people of God grow in their knowledge and discernment. Paul recognized that since God is love, increasing in the very defining characteristic of Almighty God would provide the perfect place for the development of knowledge and insight into the wonderful character of our Creator.
As we grow in love, we grow in the understanding and capability to actively participate in the character of God, and therefore to know Him experentially. This gives us the opportunity to increase in our discernment of what is good and proper. Love fulfills the law, and love shows us the way to what is good. For of every good giving and every perfect gift, love is the most powerful and lasting of them all.
Paul desires that we develop the insight into the character and experiential knowledge of God. It is not merely enough to learn about something. To truly understand it, you must embrace it and experience it. It them becomes real for you, and as you practice anything, its nuances and the depths of its virtues become apparent.
For instance, it may look wonderful to jump from an airplane, free-fall for a while, and then pull the cord to release the parachute to glide gently to the Earth. This all looks good, fun, and liberating, but until you actually do it, you won’t experience the thrill of free-fall, the wind against your face, the buffeting of the air against your body, the temporary feeling of liberation from gravity, and the majesty of seeing the land beneath you from a great height.
You won’t experience the nuance of controlling the parachute with your controls, moving left and right, leveling and directing your glide, working with and against the currents of the air, and the moment of truth as you try to gently end your flight without causing harm to your body as you either suddenly or slowly decelerate your fall with your feet and legs. It only becomes real to you when you do it. Words cannot truly describe what the body must experience. And words cannot truly describe what the spirit must experience as well.
As we exercise our spirit through the practical application of love, we will have the wonderful opportunity to increase our capacity to discern what is good. Exercising love provides the circumstances in which we can more fully understand and discern what is good and right. This gives us the perspective of wisdom – the practical application of knowledge – that helps us to grow spiritually wise.
Discernment is a vital tool in the life of a disciple of Christ. Discernment provides the filter through which paths can be assessed to end in good or evil. Discernment give the disciple insight to grow in love and the character of Almighty God. Without discernment, we will fall for every trick of the enemy, and find ourselves ruined, and possibly find our faith shipwrecked:
1 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.
4 “But let no one bring a charge,
let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother-
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.”
Filled with Fruit
The fruit of righteousness comes from and through the experiential knowledge of following Jesus Christ – obeying His commands. When we obey Jesus, we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit has He did when He walked the Earth two thousand years ago. And when the Holy Spirit of God indwells us, and we give Him permission to work in us and through us, we will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
When we are walking in the spirit – being filled with the fruit of the Spirit by the One who provides the fruit, we live a life that bring glory and praise to Almighty God. As we bear fruit in accordance with the will of God, we develop discernment concerning both how to bear fruit, and what we should avoid in order to bear more fruit. Just as an arborist prunes trees so that the dead wood no longer burdens the tree, and increases the available nutrients for the good branches, so does discernment help us to stop feeding the dead wood in our lives. It is only when we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit that we are living a life that is correctly modeling our divine calling and nature as image-bearers of Almighty God.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I increasing in the insight and discernment by allowing the Holy Spirit of God to bear fruit through me?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, it is the greatest honor to bear fruit for You. You have given me life as a branch unnaturally attached to the vine, grafted in for Your pleasure. You prune my dead wood, and help me to grow and bear even more fruit for You. Help me to recognize the dead wood in my life, and to deny it any thought or energy. Help me to let it die, and be pruned off, so that I would grow in grace, wisdom, and discernment of what is good, proper, and holy. Help me to be sustained by Your nourishment, for You provide for all of my needs. Guide me in the way I should go, and help me to do all that You have planned for me to do in Your will and Your way. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.