Monday, March 12, 2018
Philippians 1:10 …so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…
Last Friday we discovered the first of four foundational principles to finding joy – the necessity of growing in God’s love. Today we look at the next progressive step that Paul explains in Philippians 1:10 – growing love produces lifestyles of transparent excellence.
As I was scanning my Bible study software from WordSearch, I saw in my illustration files this anonymous quote from a little girl to her mother. She said, “Mommy, Jesus lived His life inside out, didn’t He?” How Perfect! That’s what it means to live in such a way “so that you may approve what is excellent.”
Paul’s prayer for the people of the church at Philippi was that their love for God and for others would grow to such a point of maturity that they would always know what is excellent, and then do it. It is important to connect the knowing and the doing, and to connect them correctly.
There are three stages of knowledge: knowing the facts, acknowledging the facts as truth, and choosing to live according to the acknowledged facts. In stage one, we are informed. In stage two, we believe the information. In stage three, the information has affected our lives in some way. When it comes to spiritual things and the truth of salvation, nothing is accomplished until stage three. Millions of people are informed about God, and of those millions are willing to admit the truth of that information. But only a small percentage of those have surrendered to the information and been transformed by it.
When we claim to have the knowledge of God’s love, but have not yet let it change our hearts and our minds so that we do something about it, then we really don’t acknowledge what we claim to know. It is the same with the knowledge of the holiness of God: if we claim to know that He is holy and that we are to be holy, yet we continue to live according to our own standards, then we have not truly acknowledged God’s holiness as truth. When our hearts and minds are offered as living sacrifices to God in an act of worship, then we will not be conformed to the image of this world any longer but will instead be transformed into the very excellence of Christ Himself.
Romans 12:1-2 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
But there’s more to this: the actions that result from knowledge are more than just learned behaviors that bring about a desired result. That’s infantile. My grandchildren do that when they are only hours old. When they cry, mommy feeds them. The immature motivation for activity is the achieving of a desired result.
But for the mature person, the motivation for activity is the nature of God within us, regardless of the result. This is what the Apostle Paul was getting at when he said, And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. He wanted us all to know the joy of living transparently. This how we live our lives inside out.
What freedom there is in living that way! Every decision, every choice, and every behavior is motivated by the holy character of Christ made possible by the Holy Spirit within us. No longer will we have to analyze situations to discern what might be the best course of action to accomplish a desired result. No longer will we have to evaluate people and their possible responses to what we do so that we choose the correct action. Instead, the indwelling Presence of God in our lives motivates every action. When we surrender our wills to His, we achieve excellence. Our lives become holy and pleasing to God. Our activity becomes good, pleasing, and perfect because it is the activity of God in us. We are free to be completely transparent because there is no flaw in God’s character in us.
Let the world look at us from the inside out. As we grow in God’s love, they will see only one thing – the holiness of God. Let God turn your life inside out. You will be well on your way towards living in constant joy.