Have you ever seen a W.W.J.D. bracelet? If you’re wondering, it stands for ‘what would Jesus do?’ When I was growing up my friends and I all wore them. We had them in all different colors. We wore them inside out and upside down. We were all about our W.W.J.D. bracelets.
I always thought W.W.J.D. was a great reminder to do the right thing. Growing up there are so many choices that we are faced with. Finding the right answer was not always easy but this bracelet seemed to at least start us looking in the right direction.
As a Christian grows up they hope to mature in Christ. They hope to have the right answers and make the right choices more than they did when they were young. This is what happens when a Christian matures. Scripture is clear that Christ followers will grow (2Peter 3:18, 1Peter 2:2, 1Timothy 4:15, Ephesians 4:15, 1Corinthians 13:11, Colossians 2:6-7, 2Corinthians 3:18) From our reading today, Philippians 1:9-11 reveals to us the 5 essentials for Christian growth. That is, the 5 ways the Spirit works in us as we follow Christ.
We love because He first loved us. (1John 4:19) It is no surprise that the first essential to Christian growth is love. After all, love is the greatest attribute of a follower of Christ. (John 13:35) In a world that tosses around this word seeking to destroy its meaning, it is always a good idea to return to the truth to test our definition of this defining characteristic of our faith in Jesus.
Agape is the word here translated as love. It is a self-sacrificing love. Later in Philippians 2:1-8, Paul gives one of the fullest descriptions of agape love in the Bible. One statement from this scripture stood out to me, “…but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” What would our lives look like if everyone’s interest were always placed above our own?
Love is not blind. Quite the opposite love is very perceptive, very discerning. True love produces obedience that requires knowledge of the truth. (John 14:15, John 14:21, John 14:23, John 15:10, 1John 3:24) Here is a list of 1236 commands from the New Testament.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
Verse 10a begins, ‘that ye’ or ‘so that’ in the ESV, indicating that the first point is foundational to the second. The word here ‘approve’ is ‘dokimazo’, meaning to allow, examine, prove, and discern. The love of God, with its foundation in the Word (commands), not only helps us discern right from wrong but helps us discern what is best from what is only good. God’s will is not good, it is perfect. (Romans 12:2) Love and the Word help us find what is excellent.
When John Wesley went away to Oxford his mother wrote the following in a letter to him: “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the delight for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin.”
That ye may approve things that are excellent;
Verse 10b also begins with ‘that ye’ or ‘in order to be’ in the ESV, again making clear the continued progression of the text. The word ‘sincere’ is ‘eilikrines’ and carries with it ideas of cohesiveness, oneness and unity. What would our lives look like if everything touched everything else and ‘gelled’ as it were with no offences? Does Christ touch every part of your life? Is there any part of your life that you are keeping for you?
that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
- Good works
Verse 11a begins with ‘being’ or ‘having been filled’ in the ESV, a perfect passive participle in the Greek indicating something that happened in the past and is continuing here and now. It is essential that we understand the progression of this Scripture. The fruit’s appeal is instant gratification but trying to skip ahead or jump right to the fruit is a lie. The fruit itself is not something to strive for in a direct sense. The fruit is the byproduct of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Forced fruit without the leaven of love is legalism.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ
- Glory of God
Verse 11b begins with ‘unto’ or ‘to’ in the ESV, this is the purpose clause, it answers the question ‘why?’. The most important essential is the glory of God. Indeed it is the reason for the others.
For a time I thought of reversing this list so that it would begin with God’s glory and end with love. Though I decided against it, the reason was that it all actually starts here, with the end in mind.
Our heart attitude is what sets all growth in motion, through the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit. Glory to God. Glory to God is on the believer’s heart. If God’s glory is our focus the Spirit will be at work in us, helping love abound in us, producing in us spiritual excellence, personal integrity, and genuine good works all to God’s glory.
As I made my way through this study I realised that there was one simple answer to that question ‘What would Jesus do?’ Jesus brings glory to the Father.
unto the glory and praise of God.
God, may our eyes be single for You. Amen.