We often assume—wrongly—that the choices we make as Christians are pretty simple and straightforward. We reason, the Bible is clear; right is right and wrong is wrong—how hard can it be? Paul’s prayer for a culture of love in the church of Philippi, however, was based on the opposite assumption that choices are not always black and white and that there are areas of grey, or as scholars call it “adiaphora” (from the Greek meaning “things that are indifferent”). This is the word that Paul uses in Philippians 1:10 where we read literally, “that your love may abound more and more … for your proving the things that differ.” What the Philippians need is love cultured in knowledge and spiritual insight that will enable parents, pastors, children, and all God’s people to prove what is excellent—the best choice, the best way, the best word in a given situation.
Paul implies here that practical Christianity is not an exact science in which every situation has a textbook answer. He is telling us that Christianity is an art learned in the school of prayer—“this I pray.” We in the Reformed and evangelical church are tripping over ourselves with all the textbook answers for parenting, for Christian homemaking and home schooling, family-integrated church, Christian fatherhood and motherhood, how-to Christian blogs, and conferences. But all of the knowledge gleaned in the age of information and streamed on the information super highway cannot replace good old-fashioned, loving spiritual insight! We need to remember that knowledge may choose between good and bad, but only loving spiritual insight can choose between what is good and what is best—things that are excellent!
Reading: “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”—Philippians 1:9–11