Interceding for Godly Character – Part 2
“9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11 NASB)
Have you ever pondered what kind of legacy you’ll leave? We all are building legacies whether we know it or not. Our legacies will be based on what we have done with our lives and how our lives affected others. Essentially our legacies are built on our values or what we believe and our volition or how we decide to live. What do you think about when you hear the names Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Malcolm Little, Martin Luther King, Jr., Clive Campbell, Steveland Morris, Henrietta Mears, Charles Templeton, Epaphroditus, David Brainerd, Thomas the Apostle, Lemuel Haynes, “Freeway” Ricky Ross, and Rosa Parks? Each one of these people left a legacy based on their beliefs and choices.
As we previously saw, Paul prayed for the Philippians’ knowledge and discernment to abound. But why? Verse 10 tells us so that they would approve the things that are excellent. Approving of things that are excellent simply means that we are to make excellent choices in our day to day living. We are bombarded everyday with worldly philosophies, choices and temptations from within and without and we need to skillfully evaluate, sift through, and make excellent decisions in all situations that are consistent with our faith. Too many times we make decisions based on convenience, impatience, and selfishness, which can lead to damaging results individually and many times corporately to the body of Christ. The need for discernment and wise decision making is paramount.
The reason is in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. To be sincere means to be unsullied or free from hypocrisy. Sincerity is an offshoot of humility. Sincerity seeks to be pure and truthful in all things, not deceitful. Hypocrisy is rooted in pride because we love to be made much of and we’ll go so far as to live pretentiously for the sake of a “good” reputation among men. Think of how damaging it is when hypocrisy has been discovered in any of our relationships. Think about how others’ hypocrisy affects us and how our hypocrisy affects others. Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:9, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,..” As believers, we are His children called to live in such a way that spreads the aroma of His redemptive grace and virtues in this fallen world.
Next, Paul uses the Greek word aproskopos for blameless. Aproskopos means to live in such a way as to not cause others to stumble into sin. A high view and love for God is the key to living in such a way that doesn’t lead others to sin. Paul echoes Jesus’ thoughts concerning this issue.
1Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So watch yourselves.
Let’s not be the yeast that so rapidly spreads throughout the whole batch. (1 Cor. 5:6). When we lead others into sin, we ultimately are sinning against Christ and endangering our own souls. I think we see this occur more and more when Christians misunderstand and abuse the liberty they have in Christ. But what is that liberty to be used for: personal indulgence or strengthening the body? With freedom comes loving responsibility, not carelessness. 1 Corinthians 8:9 says, “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” Galatians 5:13 says, “But do not use your freedom (liberty) to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
Paul’s train of thought is brilliant as he practically defines love as knowledge and discernment leading to wise sacrificial decision-making for right living for the glory of Christ. I’ve heard it put this way: Thoughts lead to actions. Actions lead to habits. Habits lead to character. Character leads to a legacy. Paul desired the Philippian believers to live lives marked by love, wisdom and integrity. That is the character and legacy he prayed for them. That’s the character and legacy Christ left for us. What is your character? What will be your legacy?