“…and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…”
In ancient times the finest pottery was thin. It had a clear color, and it brought a high price. Fine pottery was very fragile both before and after firing. And this pottery would often crack in the oven. Cracked pottery should have been thrown away. But dishonest pottery salesmen would fill in the cracks with a hard pearly wax that would blend in with the color of the pottery. This made the cracks practically undetectable on the shelf, especially when the piece was painted or glazed. This wax ruse however was immediately uncovered if the pottery was held up to bright light, especially sunlight, for the cracks would show up as darker lines. It was said that the artificial element was detected by “sun-testing.” Such a vase was known as "sun-judged". It is notable that the honest pottery dealers would mark their product with the words "sine cera" which means “without wax”. Our English "sincere" comes from the Latin words "sine cera"!
“Sun-judged” or “without wax” is precisely what the Greek word that is translated here “pure” is referring to (some translations use the word “sincere”). In essence what Paul is saying is that he prays that the Philippians love might abound more and more and that its abounding love might be grounded in knowledge and all discernment. This type of love then leads to approving that which is vital, which in turn leads to being made pure (without wax) and blameless in preparation for the day when we stand before Christ.
How can approving (choosing) that which is vital lead to our being found sincere and without hypocrisy? How does living our lives daily in conformity to that which vital create in us purity? Perhaps whenever we are spend our lives for that which is vital we no longer have lives focused on self (and therefore lives focused on sin). Our approving what is vital serves as a filter. It removes that which we should not be spending our lives on and creates in us a pure and single-minded heart that goes fully after God and the advance of His beautiful Kingdom.
The word for “blameless” can either mean, “Not cause others to stumble” or perhaps “to not stumble ourselves”. How can approving (choosing) that which is vital lead to our “not stumbling” or “not causing others to stumble”. Certainly having a singled-minded focus on the advancement of the Gospel (or “knowing God and making Him known”) will create in us an others-oriented lifestyle. As we line up with God’s great purpose in our lives we are no longer concerned with building our own kingdom but instead we are focused on advancing His. This causes us to be focused on others. Also, having a God-centered life and purpose will allow us to persevere.
In one sense of the word we will stand before God without any purity or blamelessness of our own. We will stand before God filled with our own guilt, yet consumed by the righteousness and the beauty of Jesus Christ! We (those in-Christ) truly will stand before Jesus totally clean.
- Read Ephesians 5:26-27 and meditate on how you will be presented to Jesus Christ. Also notice how that will come about—how is it that God transforms us into a pure and spotless bride?
- What are areas in your life that are not as “pure” as they need to be? How can those change?
- Do you often stumble yourself? Do you cause others to stumble? How can this change?