Some things you just can’t have too much of. Like ice cream. Or time with family. Or kisses from your three-day-old little girl.
Of course, Paul wasn’t talking about any of those things in Philippians 1, though I doubt he’d disagree with me. Here’s what he says:
And 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 (Philippians 1:9-11).
Our English translations struggle to communicate Paul’s emphatic language in this passage:
- “And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more . . .” (NRSV)
- “I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more . . .” (GNB)
- “That your love may abound more and more . . .” (ESV)
The verb “abound” itself is strong, meaning “to be present in abundance,” and the way Paul uses it here means “to keep on abounding.”
But then he adds this phrase: “still more and more” (though most translations leave the “still” out).
He could’ve prayed that our love might abound, or that it might “abound more.”
If he wanted to add a little more emphasis, he could’ve asked that it “abound more and more.” But that wasn’t good enough, so he asked for their love to “abound still more and more.”
I think what he’s telling us is clear: you can’t have too much love.
Ever felt like your spouse loved you too much? Have your kids ever loved you too much? Ever felt too loved? Probably not, and Paul says he prays that our love will just keep on growing.
If you’re married, he’s asking God to multiply your love for your spouse. If you’ve got kids, he wants your love to triple by this time tomorrow.
And of course, ultimately, most importantly, he’s praying that we’ll abound in love for God as we mature in faith, that we’ll be obsessively in love with Jesus, that we’ll love the Spirit of God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Paul is making a huge request for you and me.
Let’s be ridiculously, extraordinarily, fantastically in love with our God.