Philippians 1:9-11 records Paul’s prayer for the Philippians. Out of all the things he could have prayed for them, he prays this “that your love may abound more and more.” Notice that he didn’t pray that their holiness would abound more and more, or that their sanctification would abound more and more, or even that they would abound more and more in Christ-likeness. He prayed that their love would abound more and more.

Now granted, abounding in love is incredibly Christ-like…actually, I’d say it pretty much defines Christ-likeness. Yet what we tend to focus on in prayer and in holiness/sanctification doctrine and teaching is behaviors, not love. Yes, love involves our behavior. Paul goes on to pray that their love would abound more and more “in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best” — in other words, that our abounding love would lead us to making right choices that would make us “pure and blameless…filled with the fruit of righeousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” But I wonder if we often put the cart before the horse by trying to teach and monitor and reward behavior instead of love.

Of course, that begs the question — how do you teach, monitor and reward love? I really don’t know. I suppose for a start we ought to recognize selfless, loving acts more than Bible knowledge, preaching, teaching or worship leading. In our culture, we clearly “applaud” great knowledge, preaching, teaching and worship leading more than we “applaud” demonstrating love.

Any thots?

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