“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment”
“And this I pray”
In verses 9 to 11 we come to one of the splendid prayers of Paul. Paul’s prayers were very suggestive. They were never superficial or half-hearted. They were always germane to the situation. This prayer has the very whiff of heaven. Paul’s prayers were a high-water mark of spirituality in the New Testament. A person ought to be at their best when at prayer. Prayer is conversing with God. The white heat of the flame of God’s presence melts way all superficiality in our lives.
In this prayer there are three petitions, all of which begin with the word “that.” Verse 9 is the first “that.”
“that your love may abound”
The first essential that Paul prayed about was that their love might “abound.” It is one thing to have love; it is yet another to have abounding love. Their love needed to be enlarged.
The word “abound” means to overflow, to be over and above, more than enough. This is a love that dominates one’s life. Love is no mere category. The unbiblical life has categories; in one category, there is love, yet in another category there is bitterness and resentment.
“still more and more”
Here is a piling up of adverbs, an exuberance of love. Wave after wave of love should hit the banks of our souls. The more we grow in grace, the greater is our capacity to love. One way we know we are growing is to see how much we love the unlovely.
We rub elbows with some people who are more difficult than others. All people do not appeal to us equally. It may be their disposition, their dress, or their way of doing things. If we love with abounding love, all that melts away. All that is irrelevant. We do not love them for their sakes; we love them for Jesus’ sake.
So the first earmark of a growing Christian is a dynamic love as over against a static love. Immature Christians wax angry at the drop of a hat; they become exasperated quickly; they are aggravated by people who do not seem to appreciate them. But as we grow more and more in love, those things become petty. In the light of the stern realities of heaven and hell, sin and righteousness, God and the Devil, such things become irrelevant and inconsequential. They are too tawdry to deflect the child of God from his original purpose of glorifying God with his life.
When we let people get under our skin or in our hair, when we let people vex our souls, we are deflected from reflecting God’s glory in our lives.
When children do something in an immature way, people say, “That’s baby fat. They will outgrow it.” Feeling slighted is something we outgrow when we grow in love.
Biblical love is dynamic; it both abounds and keeps developing so that it moves the child of God out of childhood into spiritual adulthood.
Are we still caught up in bitterness and indignation? Are we trapped at the initial stages of Christianity? Have we recognized signs of babyhood?