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Philippians 1:9

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight.

Overflowing love

‘Knowledge’ and ‘insight’ are not the things we usually think of in connection with overflowing love. We think of love in emotive terms: passion, joy, desire. Is Paul speaking here of knowledge and insight into God’s love for us – and thus our love overflows? Or does ‘knowledge’ and ‘insight’ here reflect the rest of his sentence: “to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God”?

It gets tricky when we hear such words, because our natural instinct is to make ourselves the focus of these sentences. We want to be pure and blameless at the coming of our Lord. (Well, sort of; that’s food for another thought.) We assume Paul is talking about our personal righteousness. But I suspect overflowing love is about creating the righteous community, the faithful community, the just and compassionate community that is God’s intention for us as human beings. When my love overflows, it doesn’t mean I am blessed; it means others get blessed, others get provided for, others get encouraged, others get forgiven.

I had a friend in college whose beautiful singing voice barred her from the St. Olaf Choir. Hers was a solo voice, not one that blended into a choir. God is looking for a choir. God is looking for a community of grace. It takes some ‘knowledge’ and ‘insight’ to become such a community. But it draws its strength and life from the spirit of this prayer Jesus gave us: “Your name…your will…your reign…as we forgive.”

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