That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
- Philippians 1:10-11
In this passage, Paul is addressing the subjects of love, knowledge and judgement. Several points in here touch on our heart. We find we need the reins to be working if we are to fulfil Paul’s requests.
"That we may be filled with the fruits of righteousness, without offence and sincere" in all of our dealings.
Trees which bear good fruit also have good roots deep under the soil. Fruits of righteousness means more than just having a smile at church or doing the occasional good deed. It means we have righteousness as our roots, deep within our heart, affecting everything we do and say, or think and mutter when nobody is around.
This ‘filled’ talks of the hundred-fold increase for which the Lord calls. We all have the capacity for that amount, but the heart is where it starts and ends. To produce that much fruit, the root needs consistent excellent food and water. In this case, righteous food and the water of life.
What our roots feed on affects the fruit. We approve what goes in, so the responsibility is ours. We bear it, and we bear the accountability of the fruit — both the amount and quality. We might have been hoping that God bore that responsibility as the husbandman, but, despite the Lord’s oversight and diligent work, He can only provide what we let in.
"That ye may approve the things that are excellent." Paul is stating that we have responsibilities. We approve those things that will affect us, that we take in.
What is approving in this sense?
We might be apt to think that approving is simply giving something our approval, like rubber stamping. However, it is more like a diligent school teacher with an exam paper. To approve that paper, the teacher first needs to examine the answers against the set questions and discern if the writer understood the questions and answered it excellently. That is the only way a Pass will be approved.
Much stuff is trying to enter our lives, not all of it is good. We are the gateway that either approves or rejects, depending on our knowledge of sin and righteousness.
Strong’s concordance G1318 renders ‘approve’ as “to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals.”
If we want to be filled with the fruit of righteousness, and produce the hundred-fold of good fruit, and if we want to be harmless in a harmful world, we must test what goes into our hearts, because it will surely come out in our words or actions — our fruit.
Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, I understand that I bear responsibilities. Please help me to know what they are. I want to be filled with the fruits of righteousness, and I want to produce what i am capable of doing, so please help me be more discerning about what enters my heart and mind.