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. (NIV)
We are often and rightly urged to love others. To do this, we need to grasp what love is and is not. Love is not mere warm feelings. Love may involve rebuke, offering unwelcome counsel, or declining to grant a seemingly reasonable request.
Which is why Paul prays that his readers not only grow in love, but grow in wisdom and insight at the same time. To commit ourselves to loving someone is one thing, to determine what shape or form that love will take is another thing.
I may want to help my elderly parent, but does that help involve an aged care place or care at home? I may want to help my child, but does that help involve warning them not to take a course of action, or letting them learn a valuable lesson by making their own choice? How do I love someone who wants nothing to do with me? How do I love someone without resorting to glib cliches and random Bible verses?
If love is not allied to wisdom it can too easily become sheer sentimentality. It can become a means of pleasing others and maintaining our popularity or reputation. Real love in the real world is much more challenging than this. Love doesn’t come easily and so we are invited to pray for more of it. And how love is expressed is no easy matter and so we are invited to pray for discernment.