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2. Imitating Christ's Humility

1If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. 5Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, 11and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 14Do all things without murmurings and questionings: 15that ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, 16holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain. 17Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all: 18and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me. 19But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state. 21For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the gospel. 23Him therefore I hope to send forthwith, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: 24but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly. 25But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; 26since he longed after you all, and was sore troubled, because ye had heard that he was sick: 27for indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honor: 30because for the work of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me.

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Practical Religion. (a. d. 62.)

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:   15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;   16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.   17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.   18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

The apostle exhorts them in these verses to adorn their Christian profession by a suitable temper and behaviour, in several instances. 1. By a cheerful obedience to the commands of God (v. 14): "Do all things, do your duty in every branch of it, without murmurings. Do it, and do not find fault with it. Mind your work, and do not quarrel with it." God's commands were given to be obeyed, not to be disputed. This greatly adorns our profession, and shows we serve a good Master, whose service is freedom and whose work is its own reward. 2. By peaceableness and love one to another. "Do all things without disputing, wrangling, and debating one another; because the light of truth and the life of religion are often lost in the heats and mists of disputation." 3. By a blameless conversation towards all men (v. 15): "That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke; that you be not injurious to any in word or deed, and give no just occasion of offence." We should endeavour not only to be harmless, but to be blameless; not only not to do hurt, but not to come under the just suspicion of it. Blameless and sincere; so some read it. Blameless before men, sincere towards God. The sons of God. It becomes those to be blameless and harmless who stand in such a relation, and are favoured with such a privilege. The children of God should differ from the sons of men. Without rebukeamometa. Momus was a carping deity among the Greeks, mentioned by Hesiod and Lucian, who did nothing himself, and found fault with every body and every thing. From him all carpers at other men, and rigid censurers of their works, were called Momi. The sense of the expression is, "Walk so circumspectly that Momus himself may have no occasion to cavil at you, that the severest censurer may find no fault with you." We should aim and endeavour, not only to get to heaven, but to get thither without a blot; and, like Demetrius, to have a good report of all men, and of the truth, 3 John 12. In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; that is, among the heathens, and those who are without. Observe, Where there is no true religion, little is to be expected but crookedness and perverseness; and the more crooked and perverse others are among whom we live, and the more apt to cavil, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. Abraham and Lot must not strive, because the Canaanite and Perizzite dwelt in the land, Gen. xiii. 7. Among whom you shine as lights in the world. Christ is the light of the world, and good Christians are lights in the world. When God raises up a good man in any place, he sets up a light in that place. Or it may be read imperatively: Among whom shine you as lights: compare Matt. v. 16, Let your light so shine before men. Christians should endeavour not only to approve themselves to God, but to recommend themselves to others, that they may also glorify God. They must shine as well as be sincere.—Holding forth the word of life, v. 16. The gospel is called the word of life because it reveals and proposes to us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel, 2 Tim. i. 10. It is our duty not only to hold fast, but to hold forth the word of life; not only to hold it fast for our own benefit, but to hold it forth for the benefit of others, to hold it forth as the candlestick holds forth the candle, which makes it appear to advantage all around, or as the luminaries of the heavens, which shed their influence far and wide. This Paul tells them would be his joy: "That I may rejoice in the day of Christ; not only rejoice in your stedfastness, but in your usefulness." He would have them think his pains well bestowed, and that he had not run in vain, nor laboured in vain. Observe, (1.) The work of the ministry requires the putting forth of the whole man: all that is within us is little enough to be employed in it; as in running and labouring. Running denotes vehemence and vigour, and continual pressing forward; labour denotes constancy and close application. (2.) It is a great joy to ministers when they perceive that they have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain; and it will be their rejoicing in the day of Christ, when their converts will be their crown. What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For you are our glory and joy, 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20. The apostle not only ran and laboured for them with satisfaction, but shows that he was ready to suffer for their good (v. 17): Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. He could reckon himself happy if he could promote the honour of Christ, the edification of the church, and the welfare of the souls of men; though it were not only by hazarding, but by laying down, his life: he could willingly be a sacrifice at their altars, to serve the faith of God's elect. Could Paul think it worth while to shed his blood for the service of the church, and shall we think it much to take a little pains? Is not that worth our labour which he thought worth his life? If I be offered, or poured out as the wine of the drink-offerings, spendomai. 2 Tim. iv. 6, I am now ready to be offered. He could rejoice to seal his doctrine with his blood (v. 18): For the same cause also do you joy and rejoice with me. It is the will of God that good Christians should be much in rejoicing; and those who are happy in good ministers have a great deal of reason to joy and rejoice with them. If the minister loves the people, and is willing to spend and be spent for their welfare, the people have reason to love the minister and to joy and rejoice with him.