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
Paul’s prayer is that Christians abound more and more in love. This part of the verse is popular, so long as love is defined according to man’s definition, which is toleration and acceptance of everything.
But that is not Paul’s definition of love, 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. His definition came from the dictionary of righteousness and sin, good and evil, that which is excellent and that which is abominable, in Scripture: 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
If God is love, His words also express love. Even 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, without this definition of excellence, 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. 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. Torah is the unchangeable plumb line in a crooked and perverse world.
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.
Therefore we do not reject anyone but love each person God brings across our path …. but we do not engage in or approve of those things that are not excellent, which will harm and not help.
For further reading:
FRC: The negative health effects of homo[s-x]uality (pdf download)