Genuine Love with Discernment


Exercising Genuine Love

Philippians 1:9-11

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (KJV).

Paul takes the godly love for them, which he conveys to them and prays that this love will abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. But that love needed to be exercised practically in “knowledge and understanding.” They needed to find discerning ways to exercise love and righteousness. In the third chapter of this book Paul will warn them about the ever-present danger of false teachers (Philippians 3:2, 18–19). The Philippians would make themselves easy prey for such teachers if, in the interest of being loving, they were not carefully evaluating everything that these teachers were presenting. Just as Dr. Luke related the practices of the Bereans Paul is warning them to temper their love with knowledge and judgment.

Acts 17:11

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (KJV).

We should be keenly aware of this danger. The Church has too often refused to stand against doctrinal error because someone argued that we must have a loving attitude and just accept another’s exegesis! Don’t listen to that argument. It flows from a false teacher. In this latter day on the grand chronology of all time there is a terrible lack of Bible knowledge and discernment. Somehow love is mistakenly thought to mean being agreeable and tolerant. Nothing can be further from the truth! Doctrine is important because we can never sacrifice truth for peace in the name of a false love. Love must not tolerate evil. We must exercise our love as a decision with logic and reason, not as gushy sentimental emoting. Some may find this cold hearted but this is what God commands, and Paul stated in this verse. We exercise our love with our minds and not just our emotion. This will produce the most desirable outcomes if we follow God’s Word and not engage in illogical emotional affection. Poor decisions in this arena will bring us outcomes that are highly undesirable and ruin our future. Consider the proverb given by Solomon, the world’s wisest man.

Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (NLT).

God wants us to approve things that are excellent and further, be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. He is telling us through his letter to the Philippians that our discernment will allow us to only exercise our love and approval, which means to distinguish the correct teachings. He wants us to see through to the center or heart of any matter before us. Paul is praying that his readers would have the good sense in exercising their God given logic and reason, in the midst of competing issues and concerns, to see what is truly important and deserving our priority so they would be able to make wise spiritual decisions. When we have the Spirit of God living in us we can let Him carefully lead us into the truth. Some of those characteristics are:


  1. The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10).
  2. The Holy Spirit has knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
  3. The Holy Spirit has will—He makes determinations (1 Corinthians 12:11).
  4. The Holy Spirit has a mind (Romans 8:27).
  5. The Holy Spirit is love (Romans 15:30).
  6. The Holy Spirit is intelligent (Nehemiah 9:20).
  7. The Holy Spirit is described as good and not evil (Nehemiah 9:20).
  8. The Holy Spirit is able to grieve (Ephesians 4:30).
  9. The Holy Spirit is blessed (John 14:26).
  10. The Holy Spirit calls out (Galatians 4:6).
  11. The Holy Spirit hears (John 16:13).
  12. The Holy Spirit intercedes (Romans 8:26).
  13. The Holy Spirit gives testimony (John 15:26).
  14. The Holy Spirit teaches all things (John 14:26).
  15. The Holy Spirit reveals (1 Corinthians 2:10).
  16. The Holy Spirit reminds men of things past (John 14:26).
  17. The Holy Spirit leads or directs men what to do (Romans 8:14).
  18. The Holy Spirit commands men (Acts 16:6-7).
  19. The Holy Spirit prevents men from doing things (Acts 16:6-7).
  20. The Holy Spirit calls men to work and appoints them to office (Acts 13:2).
  21. The Holy Spirit goes forth upon the mission to which He is sent (John 15:26).
  22. The Holy Spirit tells what is yet to come (John 16:13).
  23. The Holy Spirit takes sides in disputes (Isaiah 63:10).
  24. The Holy Spirit fights those who rebel and grieve Him (Isaiah 63:10).
  25. The Holy Spirit makes decisions on the basis of reasoning (Isaiah 63:10).
  26. The Holy Spirit fellowships with believers (2 Corinthians 13:14).
  27. The Holy Spirit prophetically speaks the mind of God (John 16:13).


These twenty-seven attributes of the Holy Spirit are not exhaustive. The represent some aspects of His personality that tie into our ability to make loving decisions based upon knowledge and not gushy emotionalism which will usually lead us to an undesirable outcome. The believer should continue with the leading of God’s Spirit until we are taken out of the world at the rapture and resurrection (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). This is for the entire time we are on the earth. Exercise discernment in love. We must stand before Christ at the bema seat judgment blameless. The great day is nearly upon us and we must be ready to meet Him. With this knowledge in hand we must be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. If we have become believers and we are filled with His Spirit then we should be walking in this life as if we have been redeemed and espousing the love Christ gave us. The fruit of His spirit is manifest in our behavior.

Galatians 5:22-25

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit (ESV). 


Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.