Day 6: Pastor’s prayer
A LoveSingapore 40.Day prayer and fast devotional, following 2022's theme of To Live Is Christ: A Journey Through the Book of Philippians.
LoveSingapore // July 6, 2022, 12:01 am
Bible reading for 40.DAY 2022 | Philippians 1:9–11
How does Paul in his chains deal with the added pain of separation from loved ones? He remembers them. But not nostalgically (Philippians 1:1-6).
He longs for them. But not in despair (Philippians 1:7-8). He turns his deepest feelings for them into a pastoral prayer (Philippians 1:9-11).
He prays that their love may increase to overflowing. Not that they lack love. They are not like those carnal Christians in Corinth who are all gifts but no heart, all tongues but no love.
They have proven their love over and over again, by ministering to Paul’s needs and by blessing the poor in Judea (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). But there are hints in this letter that their love needs topping up by some pastoral prodding.
True love manifests itself in practical behaviour that is consistent with the character of God.
True love is neither blind nor credulous. It manifests itself in practical behaviour that is consistent with the character of God.
Paul wants his flock to see all things clearly and to act with discretion in every situation. He prays that they will love with knowledge and discernment.
Nowadays many Christians lack knowledge and discernment. In fact, some suppress knowledge and discernment to sound cool and stay popular. And so they readily approve and endorse things that are sinful and shameful. Such as dishonouring authority, self-indulgence and the like.
Others disseminate ideas that may be interesting but not essential. And some ideas are dubious.
Paul prays that his people will approve what is excellent, like money changers testing coins, separating what is genuine from which is counterfeit. The goal is that they may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
Eschatology is about two days: this day and that day.
To live is Christ means living in purity and innocence today and every day so that we may be found pure and innocent on that day. Blessed are those who purify their hearts now. For they shall see God now, as well as on the day of Christ.
Finally, Paul prays that his readers will be filled with the fruit of righteousness. This is no small matter.
Jesus said: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19). The righteousness that comes by faith is both right standing with God and right living before God, manifesting the fruits of the Spirit, the Beatitudes of Jesus, and the values of the Kingdom – through Jesus Christ, to the glory of God.
Who can forget the pandemic years? They were dark and divisive for much of our world. We have all been severely tested on love: our choice to love and our capacity to love. But this is only the beginning of sorrows, as the day of Christ draws near.
1 Watch and pray. Are we becoming more and more like Christ, who embodies perfect love that never fails? Come what may, pray that the extremely gifted Singapore Church will never fall short on love:
- IF we have the most beautiful liturgy ever scripted, and if we deliver the most eloquent sermons ever preached, but do not have love, we are noisy gongs.
- IF we have the most prophetic worship-leaders backed by the most skilful musicians, but do not have love, we are clanging cymbals.
- IF we have faith to move mountains, and insight to understand the times, but do not have love, we are nothing.
- IF we show extravagant generosity to the poor, but do not have love, we gain nothing.
- IF we have the best strategy to turn Singapore Godward and the coolest team to create social media buzz for our activism and initiatives, but do not have love, we are less than zero! (Lawrence Khong | Summit 2020 adapted)
May we act with discretion in every situation.
2 Watch and pray. Beware the pitfall of love without knowledge and discernment. As the world boils over with social upheaval and messy geopolitics, media ‘mafias’ are misleading millions with their fake news and false views, ridiculous spins and cynical speculations. May we examine all things critically, including those that bear the ‘Christian’ label. May we act with discretion in every situation.
3 Watch and pray. Ask God for true love with discernment. In the name of freedom, many suppress truth and pander to the loud and proud minority that is allergic to hard truth and honest conversation. Some have even abandoned discernment to please a self-idolatrous generation that deciphers reality according to how they feel and what they lust after.
Are we party to such crimes of conscience? Pray for yourself. Pray for parents, pastors, politicians, and policy-makers. Reject all such blind ‘love’ which, without discernment, is dishonest, disgraceful, and extremely dangerous.
4 Watch and pray. Stand in the gap for the Singapore Church, that discerning love will abound more and more. Discerning love that does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). So that we will approve, practise, teach, preach, and promote what is excellent. So that we will be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. So that we will be filled with the fruits of His righteousness and keep this generation safe and sane, secure and sanctified in Christ.
So that at every gate of influence, we will nudge Singapore toward paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34 ROV).
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