The love that he desires to manifest in the hearts of his “children” is the “agape” love that we attribute to God. It’s the kind of love that marks who God is–1 John 4:8 reads that God is love (agape). Therefore, Paul is praying to the Lord that He would cause the kind of love that marks His character to abound even more in their hearts. Note: it takes God planting His kind of love toward others into our hearts for us to be able to view our neighbors the way He sees them.
The word “abound” here is perisseuō meaning: “to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure.” The only limitation that we have to loving others is our own man-implemented boundary of what is appropriate. For instance, I struggle with loving people who don’t make an effort with me. Furthermore, I hesitate to reach out to people sometimes because I’m afraid that they will reject my offer of friendship. However, Paul’s desire and prayer for the manifestation of the agape love of God to perisseuō in our hearts was that we would break through the fear of man limits in loving people and embrace those who curse us. Love is not based on what other people think about us–love loves because it loves, and man’s actions do not reflect on that love. God, let us break the limits of loving!
In knowledge = epignōsis. This is specific knowledge–a knowledge of the divine and of God. We aren’t just contending for knowledge that would reflect on us as smart people. We’re contending for a revelation of Jesus. We’re seeking to see Him and know Him in the power and glory of His resurrection. It is only from the position of knowing God that we can function in His authority on the earth. The more we know God, the more we become like Him and carry His image to those around us. God, let me be stamped as an image-bearer of You.
Discernment here is aisthēsis which also translates “judgment.” This is a tough one for me because I have such a strong judging streak in my disposition. However, this is not the judgment of Matthew 7 that Jesus condemned–saying, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” That judgment is krima and it carries the connotation of condemnation–of passing sentence on people who perpetuate wrongs. Paul’s judgement here is, instead, of a more contemplative nature. It means discerning right and wrong, reasoning out what God would consider appropriate action for you to take, and aligning your life accordingly. Paul wasn’t asking the people to condemn each other or judge each other’s actions; instead, he was asking them to turn the lens onto themselves and view their lives through the Word, making decisions based upon this view.