Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

THAT YOUR LOVE MAY ABOUND Philippians 1:9-11

warm up
  Which of the following do you think is most true? Why?
[  ] Love is most important  [  ] Knowledge is most important 
[  ] Wisdom is most important  [  ] All are equally important
T or F Love that willfully hurts the feelings of others is not really love.
T or F If we really love someone we will desire to know more about them.
T or F If we really love Jesus we will want to know more about his will.
wise up
I. Does our love abound in knowledge and judgment? Vs. 9
What kind of specific knowledge was Paul referring to in this text? (cf., Phil 3:8.) How does one acquire such knowledge according to Paul? (cf., Eph 3:4.)

   2. In Romans 10:2-3, Paul wrote of those who had zeal without knowledge. Can one have spiritual insight (discernment) without knowledge of God's will?  Does salvation depend in part upon our knowledge and understanding of God's will? (cf., I Timothy. 2:4, Romans 10:17).

   3. Notice in our text that Paul's prayer for his brethren is that their love may continuously abound (overflow) in the area of religious knowledge and discernment. It is not unusual to hear brethren pray that we might grow in our love for one another or in our love for the Lord, but how often do we pray that our love might grow more and more in knowledge and judgment?

a. In I Corinthians 8:1, what does Paul say that knowledge can do?  What does Paul suggest can keep us from becoming arrogant in our knowledge? 
b. Could that be why Paul prayed that love may "abound more and more in knowledge?" What are some of the practical things that result when we couple love with knowledge? (For example: Are we less offensive? v-10) 

II. Do our lives reflect a knowledge and judgment rooted in love? Vs. 10-11

   1. There are three benefits to having a judgment based upon knowledge that has been immersed in love:

a.  First, we are better equipped to discern and give our approval to things that are "excellent" (of real and eternal value).
b. Second, we can be sincere (pure in motive) without being offensive.
Third, our lives are filled with fruits of righteousness.

   2. The first benefit mentioned is not just the ability to discern what is of value (good from bad), but to actually "approve" what is excellent. Why do many people who know what is the right, fail to acknowledge it as such? Is the missing ingredient:
       [  ] a failure to know what is excellent or right? 
       [  ] a failure to discern what is excellent or right? 
       [  ] a failure to love what is excellent or right? 
According to I Corinthians 13:2, what do we have when we have knowledge without love?
   3. While it is true that a person can be sincere without love in knowledge and judgment, he or she cannot be "sincere and without offence." (Notice in the second benefit Paul has coupled these two things together. His desire is that the brethren be both sincere and without offense.) There are lessons to consider here:

a. First, sincere people can stumble and offend God when they fail to approve what is excellent (of value) out of ignorance or foolishness? 
b. Second, sincere people can offend others and cause them to stumble because they fail to wrap their instruction in love? How does Ephesians 4:15 say we should speak the truth to others?
c. Discuss why in either situation, sincerity (purity in motive) is not enough. 

   4. In verse 11, Paul mentions the third benefit: "the fruits of righteousness." Paul indicates that this should be a natural byproduct that occurs when our knowledge and judgment (grounded "in love") approves what is excellent and our lives are conducted with sincerity and without offence to God or man. 

a. Paul's expectation is that those whose love abounds "yet more and more in knowledge and all judgment" will not only bear fruit, but be "filled" with the fruits of righteousness. Is there a connection between the abundance of love in our lives and the abundance of fruit? Why? 
Notice the "passive tense" used by Paul. ("Being filled...") We do not fill our own basket with fruits of righteousness, this is done for us by Jesus. (cf., Phil 3:9.) This is why the glory and praise goes to God. (John 15:8).
c. What are some of the "fruits (plural) of righteousness" that come from Jesus? (cf., Gal. 6:22-23.) Discuss as time permits.

wrap up
1.  The apostle Paul connected love with knowledge and discernment. Without it we are missing an important ingredient of what Christianity is all about. 
May our love today also abound (overflow) in knowledge and all judgment so that we may approve what is excellent, be sincere without offending God or man, and be filled by Jesus with fruits of righteousness!

  Please read Philippians 1:12-20a for next week   copyright 2001