To grow to full spiritual maturity, we must build our lives on love and have God’s power to lay hold of and know the unknowable love of Christ.
1. The Christian life is rooted and grounded in love.
To be rooted in love pictures a sturdy, growing tree that sinks down roots that enable it to withstand drought and fierce storms. A tree is a living, growing organism. Even so, the Christian life is a living, growing relationship with God and with others.
2. Being built on love, we must have God’s power to lay hold of Christ’s love with all the saints.
The focus shifts in verse 18, from love in general to Christ’s love for us. The Greek verb translated, “may be able,” means, “to have the strength.” The verb translated, “comprehend,” means, “to lay hold of or seize.” So Paul is praying that we may have the power to lay hold of or comprehend the immensity of Christ’s love for us, which, paradoxically, is beyond comprehension.
3. Knowing Christ’s love is a never-ending process, because it is unknowable.
We can know something of His great love, and it is definite knowledge, not just speculation. But, in another sense we can never know it completely, because it is unfathomable. Throughout eternity we will never come to the place of saying that we know all that there is to know of Christ’s great love for us.
4. Knowing Christ’s love results in spiritual maturity.
Can we ever attain such perfection in this life? The greatest of the saints have all lamented on their deathbeds that they are miserable sinners, saved by God’s grace alone. They all have been quick to admit their many remaining faults and shortcomings. But, as Paul states (Rom. 8:29), God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. We know that He will accomplish His purpose for all of His elect. As John tells us (1 John 3:2, 3), “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” So we should join Paul (Phil. 3:14) in pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”