His Concern for their Learning (10a) – That ye may approve things that are excellent. Along with their love, Paul prayed for their wisdom in Christ. He spoke of: <!–split–>
A. An Examination – That ye may approve things that are excellent. As Paul dealt with their daily lives and Christian conduct, he challenged them to approve those things that are excellent. This is an interesting aspect of the believer’s life. It literally speaks of our discernment, the examination of various aspects of life. Simply, he called on them to put things to the test. They were to analyze the situation or circumstance and measure it by a biblical standard. Their lives were to be lived in light of the Spirit instead of the flesh. Their doctrine was to align with Scripture, not the desires of men or dictates of society. They were to please the Lord, not men.
B. An Estimation – That ye may approve things that are excellent. The word excellent in the text is interesting as well. It speaks of things that are different and those that make a difference. He in essence prayed they would approve those things that really mattered. Paul desired them to major on those eternal things. He knew there were good things, better things, and best things. He wanted their focus to be on the aspects of life that were worthy of their time and commitment.
Churches are filled with those who are engaged in good things, but are we really engaged in the best things? Having fellowship with those of like faith is great, but having an outward focus to share the Gospel in reaching the lost is best. We can’t afford to get bogged down with merely good things at the expense of accomplishing the best things!
III. His Concern For Their Loyalty (10b) – that ye may be sincere and without offence til the day of Christ. Paul also prayed for their loyal allegiance to Christ. He prayed for:
A. Their Sincerity – Paul desired them to be sincere in their faith and walk with the Lord. This is one of my favorite word pictures in all of Scripture. The word literally means “judged by sunlight.” It is derived from the Latin word since cera, which means “without wax.” In that day, fine pottery was often thin and very fragile. As it was fired in the kilns to harden, cracks in the pottery were possible. Dishonest dealers would fill the cracks with wax that was unnoticeable when the pottery was painted or glossed. Buyers soon learned to hold the pottery up to the sunlight in order to reveal any impurities in the vessel. The sun’s light would reveal the crack and the wax. (Isn’t that beautiful and challenging? Our lives are to be judged by the Son’s light, free of wax and other impurities! His light will reveal the needed change in our lives.)
B. Their Purity – Paul prayed their lives would be sincere and without offence until the day of Christ, as long as they lived, or until the Lord called for them. He desired the church to maintain a positive witness among the world, being found blameless when examined by others.
There is probably little praying for purity in our day, and even less preaching on the matter. If we are honest, such behavior has created much harm to the church. We cannot expect to have a positive witness among the world if our lives are lived no differently than theirs. While none are perfect, we are held to a higher standard. We have been bought with a price; we are no longer our own and forfeited the right to live as we please. Those who have no relationship with the Lord will find it difficult to desire if they continually see those who profess Christ living in open sin without remore. We must live our lives above reproach before the world around us!
Paul loved the church at Philippi and was committed to praying for them. We need to share the same commitment to pray for Bethel Wesley. There are real people with real needs, that need specific prayers.
(Look for Part 3 to conclude Pastor Stan’s “Praying With A Purpose” in the December Chimes.)