Scripture: Philippians 1:1-11
Consider, for example, Paul’s remarkable prayer for the Christians at Philippi in the opening section of his letter to them: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may 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” (Philippians 1:9-11). Notice the sequence of Paul’s prayer here. If you read it too quickly, you might come away with the impression that Paul is primarily concerned about knowledge. Indeed, at a glance, given our habits of mind, you might think Paul is praying that the Christians in Philippi would deepen their knowledge so that they will know what to love. But look again. In fact, Paul’s prayer is the inverse: he prays that their love might abound more and more because, in some sense, love is the condition for knowledge. It’s not that I know in order to love, but rather: I love in order to know. And if we are going to discern “what is best”— what is “excellent,” what really matters, what is of ultimate importance—Paul tells us that the place to start is by attending to our loves.
There is a very different model of the person at work here. Instead of the rationalist, intellectualist model that implies, “You are what you think,” Paul’s prayer hints at a very different conviction: “You are what you love.”—James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love
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