christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

philippians 1, the things that are excellent

Read Philippians 1 at Bible Gateway.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Phi 1:9-11

I have read a lot of commentary in the past day, regarding the half million people or so who ate at Chick Fil A yesterday on Chick Fil A Appreciation Day. Some of the commentary from Christians went along the lines of I am ashamed to be a Christian if this is how Christians act, A victory was won for hate and intolerance today, and many other such things. The reason, they give, for feeling this way, is that Christianity is supposed to be all about love, and when we support Chick Fil A because the founder as an individual came out in support of the biblical definition of marriage, then we are really acting in hatred and intolerance and not love, since the gay couples are excluded from the biblical definition of marriage.

Paul’s prayer is that Christians abound more and more in love. This is the part many latch on to, but then add their own definition of love: love means toleration and acceptance of everything.

But that is not Paul’s definition, for he does not end his prayer with love, but adds that as love abounds, knowledge and discernment also abounds. Knowledge of what, discernment of what? Those things that are excellent.

In other words, not everything is excellent. Grow, Philippians, in your knowledge and discernment of those things that are excellent. By implication, some things will not be excellent. Paul’s definition of those things that are excellent did not come from himself, from man, from his first century Jewish culture, or from the Roman society in which he was immersed. If it had, he would not be writing this letter from prison. His definition came from the immutable Scripture, and the dictionary of righteousness and sin, good and evil, that which is excellent and that which is abominable, in Scripture, is Torah.

It is Torah that is famous for saying,

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Lev 18:22

Where does God’s Famous Love come in? The negative commands in Torah, overwhelmingly, set up barriers of protection around those who obey them, protecting health, prosperity, happiness, societal stability, justice, and other factors which contribute to the well being or shalom of mankind. Love without this truth, is not love. It is not love to remove standards and barriers and to tolerate everything. Love works for what is best for the person loved, which is not always what the loved one wants. Anyone who has raised a child knows this. As a matter of fact, people may know what they want, without knowing that what they want will hurt them. One with greater wisdom is needed to reveal what will help and what will hurt. And that is what God has given man, in Torah.

God is love, and His children are to grow and abound in love, without abandoning knowledge and discernment, because love without knowledge of truth, and discernment of the things that are excellent, is not love at all.

For further reading:
FRC: The negative health effects of homo[s-x]uality

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