Approve what is Excellent

Sometimes we think of being “blameless” in terms of what we avoid. But being passive in life, out of fear we will do or say the wrong thing, does not lead to a blameless life.  In Matthew 25:14-30, it was what the man with the talent DIDN’T do that offended his master.

I was reading Philippians 1:9-10 this week, and a few words struck me:

“It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

The prayer is about being “pure and blameless” by what we “approve,” rather than what we avoid!

This reminded me of Derek’s webb’s song “T-Shirts,” or Andrew Peterson’s “Come, Lord Jesus.”  I want myself, and other Christ-followers, to be known, not primarily by what we are against, but by what we  are “for.”  I want us to be known by our love (John 13:5).

In the parable of the good Samaritan, the people that walked by the helpless man were on their way to do things that were good and right (Luke 10:25-37). The problem was that, in their lists of right and wrong, they did not make room to “approve what is excellent” in the moment.   They did not make room for discernment or love.

Making room for love and discernment, does not mean that we do not obey God’s laws; it means we obey them more fully.  In Matthew 23:23, Jesus says:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

The teachers of the law and Pharisees had the same thing in common that the people that passed by the hurting man in Luke 10 did: they had the cut and dry rules down, but not the “more important,” but less defined, ones.  Giving “a tenth of your spices” requires no further thought.  “Justice, mercy, and faithfulness” require that discernment we talked about.

To walk in love and discernment, and to “approve what is excellent,” requires actually having a relationship with God, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice in the moment (Isaiah 30:21).  It may require us changing our plans, even if they are good plans.   It most certainly will require more effort!  BUT, may we “approve what is excellent” today!

 

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