Knowing Love

“love… in knowledge and discernment”

Philippians 1:9


This is an interesting verse…. Love is a word that takes on many meanings in our culture.  It’s strange that a word that expresses such strong emotion is used so blithely.  I say I love things from my children, to Dreyers’ Rocky Road ice cream, but truthfully I do not feel at all toward the ice cream like I do my children.  I just use the same word because my listener will understand.

Love is a positive word.  It evokes a warm, pleasant feeling, unlike, say, the words “queasy” or “agony”.  Those words convey negativity.  Love is hearts, flowers, smiles, kisses, happiness, and of course, ice cream.

So this verse strikes me as odd.  Love is… knowledge?  Love is discernment?  This is what Paul says of the church at Philippi.  He prays that their love may “abound more and more,” and now of course, this prayer extends to all of us.  So how can love abound in knowledge and discernment? 

“Abound” means to be plentiful or fully supplied, and my first reaction to that is:  God.  The only way for love to be fully supplied is from God.  1 John 4:8 says that God is love, and 4:7 says that love is from God.  So the first way for love to abound in me is through knowledge of God.  And the secret to that is His Word.  Every reading and every study of His Word increases my knowledge, and therefore my ability to love.  Even writing this, I knew right where to go to find the verses about God and love.  That is knowledge, previously gained, that is helping me to study this verse in Philippians.  Knowledge of God = love.

Discernment is a little trickier for me to relate to love.  Discernment, as I understand it, has to do with telling right from wrong.  My dictionary tells me I’m close, but it goes deeper:  “to detect with the eyes; to come to know or recognize mentally; revealing insight and understanding”.

So how will discernment help love ~ help God ~ to abound in me?  It’s the ability to find, to recognize God ~ in our circumstances, in trials, even in people.  It’s insight and understanding about His Word and about His presence in my life.  Insight and understanding means seeing my world through His eyes, to the very best of my ability.  And that will allow me to love others as He loves me.

Knowledge and discernment are my goals.  Love is the result.


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