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Bible Commentaries

Meyer's Devotional Commentary on Philippians

Philippians 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-4

THE ENTWINING OF CHRISTIAN HEARTS

Philippians 2:1-4

Fellowship is Essential to Growth of Character.

Fellowship is essential to the true development of character. Ever since the Creation it has not been good for man to be alone. The Swiss Family Robinson was always more interesting to me than Robinson Crusoe, because the latter was alone on the island, whilst the former was a family group. No man can be satisfied to live by himself. It may be necessary, but he will not attain his full growth. He needs fellowship with those above him, with those beside him, and with those below him, in order to attain his full maturity.

Such Fellowship is Communion.

Such fellowship must be inward rather than outward. It must be communion rather than communication; it must be in spirit and sympathy more than in outward form. If a man is only conscious that he is in sympathy with kindred souls he does not so much mind if they be silent. If there be at this moment some noble angel who has been commissioned by the Almighty to undertake a distant errand to one of the environs of the universe, and who at this moment is plying his mighty fight through ether, intent on executing the purpose of the Most High, his noble bosom heaving with adoration, devotion, and praise, even though his back should be turned to the metropolis of the universe from which he has started, in those distant seas of space, from which no answering angel voice responds to his, and where his voice alone awakens the echoes with the praise of the Eternal, he probably is not conscious of solitude, or loneliness, or isolation, because his heart is beating in sympathy with the great host of beings he has left behind him. It is not necessary, therefore, that we should have outward contact with people to derive the development of character, which comes from sympathy; if the contact is inner and heart to heart, it is enough for the achieving of the Divine purpose.

It must Come Through a Common Medium.

This fellowship will best come to us through a common medium. Of course, there are many cases of affinity in which man is drawn to man, and woman to woman, and man to woman, by a sort of inward attraction and approximation of heart to heart. But this is not so strong for the most part as their common adherence to a common interest. There may be the aggregation of sand-grains, which have been moistened and compressed until they appear to cohere, but directly they become dry they disintegrate and fall apart, atom from atom; whereas, supposing a number of grains of iron dust to accumulate around a common magnet, because the iron attracts them to itself it attracts them also to one another, and there is no disintegration, but a perpetual welding. So it is with groups of men. Men may be pressed together from without, whose union is but temporary. But again, other men may embrace one common principle, and become compacted into a cohesive whole. For the most part it is better, therefore, for us to adhere to one another because of their adhesion to a common centre or medium.

The Medium may be a Common Sentiment.

This knitting medium may be a common sentiment. For instance, take the children of a home—a brother and sister. Their spirits came, God alone knows whence, but they met together in this common family circle. The common life of the father, of the mother, of the dear old ancestral residence, of the antique furniture, of the garden, or farm,--these create the common sentiments that yield for those two a medium of unusual attractiveness. So it is with two artists. Their common interest in the beautiful, that they catch bewitching nature in her shyest moods, that they are students together of the secrets of creation—these common sentiments will draw them together. They may have met in some little village, never having known each other before, but from that week which they spend together, they become welded by a common sentiment. So it is with two reformers, men who have come from different parts of England, who speak different dialects of English; they meet in a common council chamber, hear some great programme unfolded, and leap to their feet with enthusiastic acclamation. Then, as they leave the hall by the same staircase, talking casually, the two men find themselves drawn together; and from that moment a tie is wrought between them which will unite them like Cobden and Bright--brothers for the remainder of their existence.

Better Still, a Common Devotion.

Higher and better than the adhesion to a sentiment is a common devotion to a person. That is what made the unity of the Cave of Adullam. David's followers had come from all parts of Israel; they were, many of them, men of rude and rough character; some were debtors, some outlaws; but as soon as they reached that spot and gathered around the magnetic personality of David, they became consolidated into a fellowship, before the impact of which the kingdom of Saul fell. He could not resist the mighty impulse of that united band of brothers, that gathered each to the other, because they gathered around David. And in our own English story, what made the unity of the Round Table, which drove out the heathen and righted wrong throughout the whole country, except the fact that King Arthur was there, the leader, the prince, the centre, in whom each of the units found union and cohesion with every other?

What is it that makes the British Empire? Is it not because distant colonies, countries, cities, and vast extended territories find their centre of unity in the personality of the Sovereign? In the old village life of England, the fact that men, women, and children came for water to the common well, that stood in the centre of the village green, made the whole village become one by its common attraction to that moss-grown well.

Best of All: God the Medium.

It is best of all when that medium is God Himself—God in the person of Christ. You can see that in a minute, if you have noticed the change that comes over a family when religion enters it. Before religion came the father, mother, and children were bound by a certain bond to each other; there were no jars, no jealousy, no strife; but when a revival comes over the Church, and the larger number, if not all, in the household become truly regenerate, there is a new depth, a new blessedness in the family life. God is in the meals, God is in the play and recreation; the thought of God persuades and permeates the whole house. The presence of God gives a new meaning to every affection, pursuit, engagement, and faculty—a new wealth and beauty pour into them all.

Two men may have been drawn to each other by a common sentiment. After a while they become religious, each begins to love God. They love one another better, touch one another at deeper points, become in every way more to one another. Those two men have taken the bulb of friendship, which could hardly thrive in the cold atmosphere to which it was exposed, and have planted it amid the kindly atmosphere of the love of God, and the poor sickly plant has unfurled a fragrance and beauty of colour which had never before been possible. So you see, however great the drawings we have to one another on the same and lower platform of common interests or sentiments towards a given centre, there is no such fellowship as that which is born in us when we are welded together in a common love to Jesus Christ and a common devotion to the interests of His kingdom. This is the basis of closest fellowship, when our souls are bound together by a strong deep attachment to God in Christ.

According to this passage there are five bonds of union and fellowship in the Gospel.

Bonds of Union: Consolation.

The first bond is the consolation which is in Christ. For consolation let us substitute exhortation, or, better still, persuasiveness, so that we might put it that the first bond of Christian fellowship is Christ's persuasiveness. That Jesus Christ is interested in every Church fellowship is obvious, but we do not always realise how much He is always doing to persuade us to main-rain it. Have there not been times in your life when you have been greatly incensed, but have realised that there was a voice speaking within your heart, and a gentle influence stealing over you, a yearning towards the brother about whom you had cherished hard and unkind feelings? That has been the persuasiveness of Christ. It is He who has besought you to check that word, to refrain from writing that letter, to abandon that bitter and offensive way which had seemed so befitting a method of repaying your enemy to his face. It was Christ who was persuading you to drop the weapon from your hand, and to reach it out in brotherhood, and this because He was so eager to keep the unity of the Spirit unbroken in the bond of peace.

The Comfort of Love.

The second bond is the comfort of love. The Greek word will bear this rendering—If you know the tender cheer that love gives; that is, see to it that you maintain the bond of Christian fellowship by meeting your fellow Christians with the tender cheer of love. We all know what tender cheer is, when men have been out all day and tried, almost beyond endurance. As they come out of the storm, the depression of their spirit and their health may have conspired to reduce them to the lowest depth of darkness--then as the door opens, and they see the ruddy glow of the fire, and the wife comes to meet them, and the child is there with its prattle, for a moment it seems almost worth while having known the weariness and depression because of the contrasted cheer that greets them. All around us in the world are Christian hearts which are losing faith; many hands hang down, and knees shake together. Let us see to it that by the kindly cheer of a smile, the grasp of a hand, the welcome of a word, we do something to draw those people into the inner circle of Christian love.

The Fellowship of Spirit.

The third bond is the fellowship of the Spirit. The word means to share the Spirit, the going in common with the Spirit. They who live near God know what that fellowship is; they know that they are always accompanied; that they are never for one moment by themselves; can never enter a room with the consciousness of vacancy; can never travel in an empty car with a sense of isolation and solitude: there is always the fellowship of the Spirit. Whatever any one man knows of this fellowship every other knows. Each Christian person is conscious of the same Presence, making evident and obvious to us the same Jesus Christ. The same atmosphere is lighted by the same sun; and in proportion as we have fellowship with the same Spirit we cannot lose our temper with each other, or be hard, cross, and unkind.

"Bowels of Mercies."

The fourth bond is, "Bowels of Mercies." The old Greek word stands for humanness and pity. In the former clause we were called upon to manifest the kindly cheer, that welcomes the weary soldier on his return from the campaign, for equals of whose heart-sorrow we have some inkling; but now we are to show fellowship for our dependants and subordinates, for the fallen, the weak, the weary, for those whose spirits cry out in agony. And in acting thus we are doing what we can to co-operate with Christ in His consolation, and with the Holy Ghost in His fellowship, to build up and compact the Church into a living unity.

A Common Mind and Purpose.

The fifth bond is one common mind and purpose—“That ye be like-minded, being of one accord and of one mind." It recalls the sentence in the book of Chronicles which tells us that every day men came from all Israel with one mind to make David king. So the deepest thought in Christian fellowship, and that which makes us truly one, is the desire to make Jesus King, that He may be loved and honoured, that thousands of souls may bow the knee and confess that He is Lord. Oh! that this were ever the prominent thought among us.

Three Results.

In such an atmosphere, where all love one another and live for the common object of the glory of Jesus, three things follow:

(1) Party spirit dies.—“Let nothing be done through strife or partisanship." One cannot say, I am of Apollos; another, I am of Cephas; because all are of Christ.

(2) There is absolute humility. Each thinks the other better than himself. Why? Because each looks upon the best things in another and the worst things in himself; and it is only when you compare what you know yourself to be with what you think others are, that you become absolutely humble. By comparing what we sadly deplore in ourselves with what we admire in others it is not difficult to think everybody better than ourselves. Out of this there comes:

(3) The habit is formed of looking upon other men's things and not upon our own. We acquire a wide sympathy. When we know God we begin to see something of Him in people who have been accustomed to very different surroundings from ourselves. We realise that those who do not belong to our fold may yet belong to the same flock. When we love Christ best it is wonderful how soon we discover Him in people who do not belong to our Church, or denomination, or system, but who also love Him best, are living the same life, and filled with the same spirit. We never relax our loyalty to our special Church, but we enlarge our sympathy to embrace the great Church, the Body of Christ.

Perhaps you have not yet entered the life of love! You do not know what the love of God is—your sin has made you evil and selfish. But if you are willing to abandon your selfish, sinful life, and kneel at the foot of the Cross, asking for forgiveness and salvation, step by step you will enter that experience which we have been describing, and which is in this world as an oasis amid wastes of wilderness sand.


Verses 5-8

HE EMPTIED HIMSELF

Philippians 2:5-8

Majesty and Humility Combined.

In the whole range of Scripture this paragraph stands in almost unapproachable and unexampled majesty. There is no passage where the extremes of our Saviour's majesty and humility are brought into such abrupt connection. Guided by the Spirit of God, the Apostle opens the golden compasses of his imagination and faith, and places the one point upon the supernal Throne of the eternal God, and the other upon the Cross of shame where Jesus died, and he shows us the great steps by which Jesus approached always nearer and nearer to human sin and need; that, having embraced us in our low estate, He might carry us back with Himself to the very bosom of God, and that by identifying Himself with our sin and sorrow He might ultimately identify us with the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. And this wonderful description of His descent to our shame and sorrow is here cited by the Apostle, that it might be a living impulse and inspiration to ourselves, not to look upon our own things, not to hold them with a tight grasp, but to be willing to stoop for others to shame, sorrow, and spitting; fulfilling God's purpose of mercy to the world, even as Jesus Christ, who became the instrument and organ through which God's redemptive purpose wrought. "Let this mind be in you." Think these thoughts. Never look exclusively upon your own interests, never count anything of your own worthy to stand in the way, but always be prepared to the last point to deny yourself, that the redemptive purpose of God may flow through the channel of your life to those that sorely need His blessed help. It is a wonderful thing that, day by day, in our poor measure, we may repeat the purpose and the work of Jesus Christ our Emmanuel.

No rhetoric or metaphor of ours can add to the splendour of these words, but in the simplest possible way we will stand on these seven successive slabs of chrysolite.

Christ in the Form of God.

First, HE WAS IN THE FORM OF GOD. The Greek word translated "form" means a great deal more than the external appearance; it stands for the essence of God's nature, so that we may say that Jesus Christ possessed the essence of the Divine quality and nature from all eternity. This exactly agrees with other words of Scripture, as when we are told, He is "the image of the invisible God." Again, "Being the effulgence of His glory," i.e. He was the outshining beam of the Father's glory; "and the very image of His substance," i.e. He corresponded to the Divine Nature, as a seal to the die. Again, "The Word was with God, and the Word was God. .... All things were made by Him." And then, as we overhear that marvellous communion between the Son and the Father, in John 17:1-26, we notice His reference to the glory He had with the Father before the worlds were made, and with which He asks the Father to glorify Him in His human nature again. All these deep words prove that whatever God was in the uncreated eternity of the past, the infinite, the incomprehensible, the all-holy, and the all-blessed,—that was Jesus Christ, who was absolutely one with Him, as spirit and soul are one in the organisation of our nature.

It was not Robbery.

Secondly, THERE WAS NO ROBBERY WHEN HE CLAIMED EQUALITY WITH GOD. Indeed, as R.V. puts it, it was not a thing to be grasped, because He was so sure of it. It was conceded to Him universally; He counted it no robbery; He thought it detracted nothing from the Father's infinite glory when He stood on an equality with Him; and it is remarkable to notice how in the four courts of earthly life He prosecuted His claim. There are four courts for us all.

Four Courts.

In the court of His intimates. On the highway to Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples whom men took Him to be; and Peter cried, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." This could not have meant that the Lord Jesus was the Son as we are sons. That would have been a meaningless response. There was something more than that. And Jesus took it to be more, because He said, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven." In those words He took to Himself the prerogative of equality with God. You remember how He said afterwards: "Ye believe in God,"—give Me the same faith, "believe also in Me." He thought it not robbery to receive the faith that man gives to God. He said significantly: "My Father and I,”—“We will come and make our abode with him." He thought it not robbery to enter the human soul and to share its occupancy with the Father. With His intimates He always spoke of Himself as One with the Father, in an incomprehensible, mysterious, but essential oneness.

So also in the court of public opinion. He said, "I and my Father are One," with an emphasis that made the Jews catch up stones to cast at Him, because, being a man, He claimed to be God. And He also told them that all men were to honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He thought it not robbing God to accept the honour men gave to Him.

So also in the court of justice. We know how the priests challenged Him, and asked Him to declare His essential nature, and said, "Art Thou the Son of the living God?"—using the word son in the sense the Jews always did use it, as intimating essential Deity; and He said, "Thou sayest that I am: and hereafter ye shall see the Son of man coming in the glory of God," for He did not think it robbery to share God's prerogative and place.

Finally, in the court of death. When death came, and He hung upon that cross of agony, He did not for a moment retract all that He had said, but opened the gate to the dying thief, and assured him that he would be that day with Him in Paradise,—for He did not think it robbing God to assume the right of opening the gates of forgiveness and life.

All through His earthly life He insisted upon it that He was God's equal, God's fellow, and that He was One with the Father.

He Emptied Himself.

Thirdly, HE EMPTIED HIMSELF. This was evidently by His free will and choice. He emptied Himself of His glory. As Moses veiled the glory that shone upon his face, so Emmanuel veiled the glory that irradiated from His Person. We are told they need no sun in heaven, because His Presence is sun. What an effulgence of light must have streamed from Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, in those uncreated ages! But when He stepped down to earth He veiled it,—the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, the Shekinah nature was shrouded, so that it was not able to penetrate, save on the Mount of Transfiguration, when, for a moment, the voluntary act by which Christ hid His intrinsic splendour was laid aside, and it welled out in cascades and torrents of blinding light.

But probably we are specially here taught that He emptied Himself of the use of His divine attributes. This is a profound truth which it is necessary to understand if you would read rightly the lesson of our Saviour's life. Men have been accustomed to think that the miracles of Jesus Christ were wrought by the putting forth of His intrinsic and original power as God: that when He hushed the storm, and the waves crouched like whelps to His feet, that when He raised the dead, and Lazarus sheeted with grave-clothes came forth, that when He touched the sight of the blind, and gave eyeballs to those that had been born without their optics, that all this was done by the forthputting of His own original, uncreated, and divine power; whereas a truer understanding of His nature, specially as disclosed in the Gospel by St. John, shows that He did nothing of Himself, but what He saw the Father doing; that the words He spoke were not His own words, but as He heard God speaking He spoke; that the works He did were not his own, but the Father's who sent Him, for when they said on one occasion "Show us the Father," He replied, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; the words! speak to you I speak not from Myself, but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth His works." His human life was one of faith, even as ours should be: "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, even so he that eateth Me shall live by Me." Frequently He paralleled our experience with His own; and no doubt the story of the Vine in which He depicts our dependence upon Himself, had long been in His thought as an emblem of His own dependence upon the Father. He chose to live like this. He voluntarily laid aside the exercise of His omnipotence, that He might receive power from God; absolutely and voluntarily forwent the use of attributes that lay all around Him, like tools within the reach of the skilled mechanic, that He might live a truly human life, weeping our tears, and receiving the plenitude of His Father's power.

Christ in the Form of a Servant.

Fourthly, HE TOOK UPON HIM THE FORM OF A SERVANT. The infinite God, with whom He was One, desired to achieve certain purposes in our world; and the blessed Christ, the Second Person in the Trinity, undertook to be the medium and vehicle through which the Father might express Himself: and just as the words that issue from our mouth are impressed with our intelligence—t he liquid air around us yielding itself to the movements of the larynx, so that what is in our mind is communicated and conveyed to others as they listen--so Jesus Christ became the Word of God, impressed with the thought, mind, and intention of God, so that the Father was able, through the yielded nature of the Son, to do, say, and be everything He desired. Christ was the perfect expression of the Being of Him whom no man hath seen, or can see.

It is absurd, therefore, to divorce Jesus from the Father. Preachers have made an awful mistake when they have spoken of the Atonement as though Jesus intervened to appease the Father, to satisfy something in God that needed satisfaction before He could love. On the contrary, the whole Bible substantiates the belief that God was in Christ; and that what Christ did, God did through Him, and that the death on the cross was the act of the entire Deity. What wonder, then, that the Father said, "Behold My Servant whom I have chosen, Mine elect, in whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the Gentiles."

In the Likeness of Men.

Fifthly, HE WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN. He must know what the experiences of a human body are, what childhood and boyhood, and what it is to pass through the various stages of manhood. It was needful that He should be as perfectly united with man as He was perfectly united with God, so that He might be made a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make intercession for our sins—for all these reasons—He did no abhor the Virgin's womb, but was made man. Let us not fear too much the mystery and burden of human life. Our Lord and Master has gone this way before us, and has left a track behind, as they who traverse the Australian bush break twigs or branches along their route, to serve as a guide to those who follow. It is good to be born, that we may have a share in the nature He has worn.

Christ Obedient to Death.

Sixthly, HE DIED. He need not have died, because He was sinless; and death was only the result of sin. 'Adam sinned, and so died; Jesus did not sin, and therefore needed not to pass through death's portal. From the Mount of Transfiguration, He might, had He chosen, have stepped back into heaven, as Adam might have been caught back to God, if he had not eaten of the forbidden fruit. Had our first parents not yielded to temptation, our race would still have peopled the world, and would have passed away, as, at the Second Advent, those will, who are alive and remain,—suddenly changed, not seeing death, and their mortality swallowed up of life. From the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus Christ could have stepped into heaven, His body passing in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, through its supreme transfiguration. But, had this been the case, He would never have made the reparation due to the holy law which man had broken. And therefore, with calm deliberation, and with full knowledge of all that awaited Him, He came down the mountain-side, and yielded Himself to death. He laid down His life at the cross, and bowed His meek head beneath death's sceptre. He had power to lay down His life, as a voluntary gift and sacrifice for our race; and He used it. Though Lord of all, He became obedient to the last dread exaction of human penalty: and, through death, destroyed him that had the power of death.

Even the Death of the Cross.

Seventhly, HE CHOSE THE MOST DEGRADING AND PAINFUL FORM OF DEATH. There were several methods of death—by decapitation, by the stoppage of the heart's action, or by drinking poison. The death of the cross was the death of the slave, the most shameful and ignominious. Cicero said that it was far, not only from the bodies but the imagination of Romans. Therefore, since this death was the most shameful through the exposure of the person, the most degrading, the most painful known to man, the Saviour chose it. He could not have gone any lower.

One has sometimes imagined how He might have died—In the home of Bethany, with the window open towards Jerusalem, Mary wiping the death-dew from His brow, and Martha waiting on His every need, whilst Lazarus gave Him a brother's help. But this could not be the Lord's choice, in view of the fact that He must taste death for every man, and be made a curse, and be able to put His everlasting arms beneath those of His followers, who have died the most excruciating and shameful deaths.

That Mind must be in us.

We must be willing to lay aside our ambition and glory, our thrones of comfort, respect, and power, if by doing so we may be the better able to succour others. We must be willing to take the form of servants, to wash one another's feet, to submit even to shame and spitting, to misunderstanding and opprobrium, if we shall thereby help to lift the world nearer God. There is no other way of sitting with Jesus on His throne, no other method by which we may assist Him, however feebly, in His work of saving others. There are plenty among us like the two brethren who would sit right and left in the Kingdom, who will never be able to attain thereto because they will not pay the price of drinking His cup and being baptised with His baptism. They will not take the low seat, or stoop to the obscure and unnoticed tasks: they love the honour that comes from human applause, and the notoriety which accrues from conspicuous notices in the daily press. God help and forgive us for yielding to these insidious temptations, and give us the Spirit of our Lord, that the same mind may be in us as in Him. Kepler, when he first turned his telescope to resolve the nebulae, said, "I am thinking over again the first thoughts of God"; but surely it is given to us to think still earlier thoughts than those of Creation, even those which were in the heart of the Lamb who was slain in the Divine Purpose before the worlds were framed.


Verses 9-11

THE NAME OF NAMES

Philippians 2:9-11

A Name Above Every Name.

This is the other side of the subject we last considered. Then, we contemplated the descent; now, the ascent: the one, His humiliation; the other, the glory to which God hath exalted Him. We ought to put this passage alongside of Ephesians 1:15-23, where the Apostle asserts that God displayed in the person of Jesus His mightiest power, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand, far above all principality and power, might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come. Indeed all through the New Testament the Father's agency in the exaltation of His Son is distinctly accentuated; and we are constantly reminded of the contrast between the action of men, who with wicked hands crucified and slew Him, and the action of God, who raised Him from the dead.

There are two interpretations, which are suggested by the Authorised and Revised Versions. We are told in the R.V. that God highly exalted Him, and gave Him the name which is above every name--the emphasis on the definite the; and if we should accept this rendering, it would convey the meaning that the infinite God gave to Jesus, His perfected Servant, His own incommunicable name of Jehovah. The name which is above every name is manifestly the name of Jehovah, which the Jews held to be so sacred that they never mentioned it, never even wrote it. It is important for us to realise that in Jesus Christ there blend at this moment the perfected beauty of the Man and the excelling glory of Jehovah--the glory which He had with the Father before the world was made. That is so deep and blessed a truth that we may be quite prepared to admit it is included in the meaning here, for our Saviour is God.

But after looking carefully into the matter from every point of view, it seems better to come back to the conclusion suggested by the Authorised Version—that the name of Jesus, which was given to Him in His birth, has been recognised as the highest type of being in the whole universe, and that this name, or more especially the nature for which the name stands, is the loftiest and supreme type of character, which is highly exalted above all other characters and types of being.

The Name of Jesus.

His is the conquering name; the name which shall become victorious; the name which is destined to supremacy—the name of Jesus. It was given to Him first by the angel Gabriel, when in his annunciation to the mother he said, "Thou shalt conceive and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus." And when Joseph was considering whether or not he should put away Mary, then espoused to him but not yet married, the angel of God, in a dream, told him to take to himself Mary his wife, because she would bear a son, to whom they must give the name Jesus. This name of Jesus was borne by our Lord throughout His earthly life, and often used by His apostles after His ascension, as the spell and talisman of victory, when they wrought miracles in His name. It is repeatedly referred to in the Epistles, and especially in that to the Hebrews, and evidently stands for the highest type of being. In the whole realm of existence this is the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, the Saviour, every knee should bow in heaven, in earth, and in Hades.

Here is Instruction

(1) We obtain instruction. We are familiar with the phrase, "Survival of the fittest"; by which we understand that amid the shocks and collisions of creation certain types of creature-like, stronger than others, broad-shouldered and powerful, have pushed their way to the front, and have crushed out the weaker. Amid the strife chronicled by history, certain races of mankind inevitably go down, whilst others forge their way to the front and hold positions of supremacy. Similarly, in the life of the world around us, where everything is being searched and tested to the uttermost by the ordeal of time, probation, and trial, certain types of character are constantly being thrust downward, or hurled against the wall in the impetuous rush, whilst others come easily to the front. Thus, perpetually, different types of ideal and character are acknowledged as supreme.

As we look around us, in the great arena of life, we are often disposed to imagine that the type of character represented by power, by the giant's grip, by sinew and muscle, is the supreme and victorious one. At other times we are disposed to think that the type of the scientist and philosopher, the man of wise thought and penetrating investigation, is the elect, the ideal type. Again we are disposed to think that the man of wealth, who by his ingenuity has succeeded in accumulating a fortune or in building up a great business, exhibits the ideal type. Thus amid the cross-lights of this world we are greatly perplexed; for when we turn to the life of Jesus Christ, the sweet, gentle, self-denying, and forgiving life, which appeared to be unable to hold its own against the antagonism and malice of men, we are apt to conclude that that type at least is too tender, too gentle, too retiring and unobtrusive to become the dominant type. Yes, we exclaim, the race is to the strong, the sceptre for the wise, the throne for the man of wealth; but the cross is for the character that lives to love and forgive and save. It is good, therefore, to come into the sanctuary of God, to leave behind us our newspapers and novels, the standards of the marketplace and the forum, and to submit our minds beneath the influence of this word which lets in eternity upon time, which allows the light that plays around the throne of God to strike in upon us; and, as we see things for one brief hour, not from the standpoint of our fellows, but of the angels—not judging by the standards of this world, but by those of the other world into which we so soon shall come—we shall find that the dominant type of character which is to endure, to last supreme when all other types of character, which men have worshipped and idolised, have passed away as the mists of winter before the summer, is the name and nature of Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of men.

This is what God hath chosen. Here is the survival of the fittest. Here is the supreme conception of character. This, this is what eternity enthrones. This is what dominates angels and demons. The nature that stoops, loves, forgives, saves; this is the ideal type. God hath given Him a name above every name—Jesus, Saviour.

Here is Encouragement.

(2) We get great encouragement. It is of infinite importance to know what God loves best. We are destined to live with Him for ever, to see Him face to face, and be for ever in His presence. It is of the highest importance, therefore, to us, to know what is His chosen ideal, that we may begin to shape ourselves by it, that we may emulate it, that we may ourselves seek to be endued by it, so that hereafter we may be taken to the bosom' of God as His chosen friends and children. If we desire to know a man we must converse with him, enter his study, handle and look at his books, and gaze round the walls at the pictures he has chosen to adorn them.

If we know a man's ideal, we know him. If we can only get God's ideal, we may know Him. Where can we find it? In creation? –No, not His deepest. In proverb and prophecy?—No, not His deepest. In angels excelling in strength?—No, not His deepest. In the perfection of moral character? That is nearer, but it is not His deepest. The name that is dearest to God is Jesus; and the character which is dearest to God is that which bears, forgives, and loves even to death, that it may save. That which God sets His heart upon for evermore is redemptive love, which He glorifies, raising it to the highest place that heaven affords.

"Ah, we will not fear Thee more, our God! We have stood under the thunder-peal hurtling through the air, and trembled; we have beheld the lightning-flash revealing our sin and making us cry for shelter; we have watched Thy march through history, and there have been traces of blood and tears behind on Thy track; and as we look out into the eternal future our hearts stand still. We are but leaves in the great forest of existence; bursting bubbles upon the mighty ocean of being; but when we come to see that Thine ideal is in the Divine Man who died for us, we fear Thee no more, but approach with the confidence of a little child; for if Thou dost love the Man Christ Jesus, and we love Him too, we can meet Thee in the Cross with its dying agony." It is a great encouragement to know that God's ideal is the Man who died.

Our God seems sometimes to come near us and say: "There is never a soul that stoops, stripping itself that it may wash the feet of another; there is never a soul that sheds tears over the ruin of those it loves, as Jesus did on the Mount of Olives over Jerusalem; there is never a soul that pours out its life-blood even unto death; there is never a soul that denies itself to the uttermost, that is not dear to Me. I notice it, though the great world passes by unwitting and careless; I bend over those who tread in the earthly pathway trodden by My Son, My well beloved; and though the midnight darkness may gather over the head, extorting the cry, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken?" I do not forget, I cannot forsake; and presently, when the earth has passed away like the shadow of the cloud upon the hills, I will gather such, and bear them upward, taking them to My bosom, and enthroning them right and left of My Son. He that drinks the cup which Jesus drank of, and is baptised with the baptism with which he was baptised, though forgotten, ignored, crushed and trampled underfoot by men, shall sit beside the Son of Man in His kingdom."

Oh, let us take heart, as we think of God's ideal; let us be encouraged, for now we know what God is, and that ultimately He will vindicate our work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope.

Here is Exhortation.

(3) We get exhortation. The name of Jesus is, then, dear to God. What then? Let it be your plea, for it is said that whosoever believeth in that Name shall receive remission of sins. Convicted sinner, longing to have a clue to the maze, go at this moment into the presence of the great God and plead the name of Jesus. Let your one cry be founded upon what He was, and is; and just so soon as you utter that name, in the spirit of the name, God accepts, forgives, and saves.

Follow Christ.

Live in that name, in the temper and character of Jesus, day by day; let His Gospel imbue and colour your character; let the imitation of the Life of Jesus be the one object of your ambition. There is no other clue to life amid the misery and sorrow of the world. Sometimes it seems hard to remember that children laugh, that the sun shines yet, that the crocuses and snowdrops are preparing to break through the clods of winter. We live oppressed beneath the infinite anguish and agony of the world; it is so dark, so terrible with its sin and sorrow, with its overcrowding and drink and passion; and there is one's own broken life, and all the mystery and perplexity of God's dealings. We can find no clue to it except to follow the ideal of Christ, living to save; every day by patient and tender forbearance making someone happier; lifting the burden from some shoulder, sending a rift of light into some darkened heart. There is no other clue for the difficulty and perplexity of life.

Speak of Christ.

Sunday School teacher, never let the lesson pass without allowing the Name of Jesus Christ to mingle with your words, like the breath of flowers in the summer air. Preacher, see to it that that Name rings through your utterances, your first word and your last. It is the only spell and talisman of victory; it is the one name that will overcome the power of the devil in temptation, and before which the evil spirits that beset us in our hours of weakness and depression give back. It is the watchword for those who approach the portals of eternity; the talisman of victory in the hour of death.

As soon as you utter the name of Jesus, you arrest the Divine ear. Therefore in every prayer, before you break out into adoration, praise, confession, or entreaty, speak in the ear of God that name. Remember that Jesus said: Whatsoever ye ask the Father in My Name, in My Nature, according to the ideal of My Life, He will give you. Let the name of Jesus winnow out of your prayers everything proud, selfish, and vindictive; let them be poured like liquid and gleaming metal into that precious mould.

Reverence His Name.

Reverence that name. "In the name of Jesus every knee shall bow." Let us never utter it without the prefix Lord. Let Him be always the Lord Jesus. If God speaks His name with marked emphasis, we must treat it with devout reverence. I greatly shrink from too great familiarity with the precious name of our Lord. A man has to be very near the Great Brother who can call him familiarly by His name.

Confess Him.

"And every tongue confess." Let us confess that He is Lord. God the Father has made Him His ideal type; make Him your ideal type. God has just put the sceptre into His hand, do you put the sceptre into His hand also. God has enthroned Him, do you enthrone Him too, and to-day look up and say: "Henceforth, Blessed Jesus, Thou shalt be Lord and King; Lord of my life, King of my mind and heart; my Lord and my God."

And remember that that is the one hope of the future. That name of Jesus, whispered first by Gabriel to Mary and to Joseph, spread through a comparatively small circle of His immediate followers, but at Pentecost the Holy Ghost caught it up, and spoke it in thunder; and ever since it has been spreading through the world and through the universe, and we are yet to see the time when the loftiest angels shall bow beneath it, when all men shall own it, and the very demons acknowledge it. "Jesus I know, and Paul I know," was the sad confession of a fallen spirit centuries ago.

This name of our Lord—the last name spoken on earth, the first name uttered in heaven--the name that comprehends grace, the name that spells glory, for He has gone to prepare a place for us. We have passed the shortest day; yonder is the spring and summer of the morning land, and we anticipate the time when we shall sit with Him; bearing that name with Him; and perhaps going forth to all parts of the universe to tell of it, to kindle hearts and lives with it, to unfold, as only redeemed men can, the full meaning and significance of the name Jesus.


Verse 12-13

THE DIVINE ENERGY IN THE HEART

Philippians 2:12-13

This text stands between two remarkable injunctions, the first personal, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"; the second relative—“Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God without rebuke."

A Personal Injunction.

The personal injunction—“Work out your own salvation." There is a sense in which we are saved from guilt and the wrath of God directly we come to the Cross; but there is a sense also in which our salvation from the power of sin will not be complete until we stand before God in perfect beauty, and in that sense we have to work it out. God gives us salvation in the germ, but the growth of the tree of our life has to elaborate this primal thought. And we are to do it with "fear and trembling," because so much is involved for ourselves and for others, for evermore, if the work is left incomplete. This is the great aim to which all other aims must be subservient—the accomplishment of our soul's salvation, God and we working together. As the husbandman and God work together for the harvest, and as the miner and God work together for the provision of coal in our homes and factories, so we are to work together with God for the full accomplishment of His purpose and our blessedness, in the ultimate salvation of our souls from every evil ingredient. This is a very deep, searching, and important work. Are you engaged in it?

A Relative Injunction.

The relative injunction—your attitude to others. "That ye may be harmless," i.e. that your life shall not injure another; blameless, i.e. that no one should have any proper blame to attach to you; without rebuke, i.e. in the sight of God. And this, not in heaven, but in the midst of "a crooked and perverse generation.'' A traveller in Japan was surprised to find a country given up to arctic winter, in which, nevertheless, there is the abundant tropical growth of oranges and bamboos. He was surprised, whilst the winds were sweeping across the snowy, icy plains of Japan, to find all these tropical plants, which he could only account for by the fact that the country had been volcanic, and that the hidden fire still burnt under the soil, so that, whilst winter reigns in the climate, summer reigns in the heart of the earth, and therefore the tropical plants are able to thrive. And we, in the midst of a very frigid, arctic world, a rebellious generation, are called to live the tropical life of eternity, to be blameless, harmless, and without rebuke. A man may say to himself, It is impossible for me to realise those two injunctions; but our text lies between them and says, Do not despair, do not abandon hope of being harmless, blameless, and without rebuke, for God will assume the responsibility of making you obedient to His own ideal—“It is God which worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure." Work out what He works in.

Six Dominant Notes.

Now this sublime text strikes six dominant notes: God's Personality—“It is God"; God's Immanence—“In you"; God's Energy—“worketh in you"; God's Morality—He works in you "to will"; God's Efficiency—He works in you "to work"; God's ultimate Satisfaction—“for His own good pleasure."

God’s Personality.

God's Personality. –“It is God that " Take away it, and transpose the other words—God is. Or if you like to strike out the word is, you leave the one great word God. And God is the answer to every question of the mind, to every trembling perturbation of the heart, to every weakness of appetite, and to every strong hurricane of temptation. The soul, the lonely individual soul, not knowing whence it has come, knowing almost as little whither it goes, confronting the question of weakness and sin and death and eternity, and the deep, deep problem of moral evil, can only answer every complaint by the one all-sufficient, all comprehending monosyllable God. This is our one sheet-anchor—God made us, God knew our constitution, God knew our environment, God knew our temptation, the temptations that would assail us, and yet God redeemed us to Himself, and made us His own by the blood of Christ. Now, if He be a Being of perfect benevolence, He cannot have done so much without assuming to Himself the responsibility of realising the object of the tears, longings, and prayers, which He has put by His own hand within our nature; and, therefore, we must throw back on Him the responsibility (we doing our part), of making us blameless, harmless, and unrebukable before Him.

God’s Immanence.

God's Immanence.—Distinguish between justification and sanctification. In justification, which is an instantaneous act upon the part of God, as soon as the soul of man trusts Christ, God imputes to man the righteousness of Jesus Christ, so that he stands before God, in Christ, accepted and beloved. But if that were all it would resemble those curious Eastern processions where they marshal all the beggars of the market-place, and fling over their shoulders white or purple dresses embroidered with gold, so that the procession is composed of a number of the raggedest, dirtiest, laziest men in the kingdom, who look for an hour respectable. And if justification were all, God would simply throw white robes upon us. But our hearts would fester; and, therefore, having justified us by an instantaneous act of His grace, He undertakes our sanctification by His immanence (from the Latin words in and maneo to remain).

Deeper than the body, deeper than the soul with intellect, imagination, and volition, lies the spirit, and into the spirit of man the Spirit of God comes, bringing the germ of the nature of the risen Christ, so that the Holy Spirit reproduces it within us. This is the immanence of God; and this is the distinctive peculiarity of our holy religion--that God can be in us, not robbing us of individuality, but side by side with it, clothing Himself with it, so that just as He was in Isaiah, but Isaiah greatly differs from Jeremiah, just as He was in John, but John was an altogether different man from Peter, so God enters the human spirit, and, without robbing us of our power of volition, individuality, or personality, He waits within, longing to burst through every restraint, and to reveal Himself through us in all the beauty and glory of His nature. Hide yourself, and let God work through you His own perfect ideal.

God’s Energy.

God's Energy.—He works. He is not an absentee in creation; He is not an absentee in providence; He is not an absentee in the spirit of man; but He works so unobtrusively that we do not always realise the mighty forces which are at work within us. Froude and Carlyle, in Carlyle's house, had a conversation one day about God's work, and Froude said that God's work in history was like His work in nature, modest, quiet, and unobtrusive. Carlyle replied sadly and solemnly—for it was a day of one of his darker moods—“Ah, but, Froude, God seems to do so little!"—as though he expected that God would resemble a world-conqueror, whose personality is always attracting attention.

If you had been present during creation, as Milton puts it, you might only have heard flute-like music. You would not have heard the voice that said, Light be! or that bade the waters give place. You would not have seen the mighty hands moulding the earth. All would have been done by natural processes, so simply, so ordinarily, you would hardly have recognised the greatness of the Creator.

And so in our heart. O son of man, thou hast not realised it, that all through these years the infinite God has been imprisoned in thy spirit; and thy tears, thy sighs, thy regrets, thy yearnings, the rejuvenation of thy conscience, which thou hast so often affronted and injured, prove that the Holy, mighty, and loving God is within thy spirit, fretting against the evil as John Howard fretted against the evils of the lazaretto and the prison, longing to make thy heart pure and sweet, if only thou wilt yield to Him.

The Divine Morality.

The Divine Morality.—He works in us to will. That is, He does not treat us like a machine. He deals with us as moral agents who can say yes and no. He is not going to compel us to be saints, He is not going to force us to be holy. If thou wilt, He much more wills, and thou dost will because He willed before. The will of God wants to take thee up into itself, as the wind that breathes over a city waits to catch up the smoke from a thousand chimney-pots, and waft it on its bosom through the heavens.

You may always know when God is willing within you—first, by a holy discontent with yourself. You are dissatisfied with all that you have ever done, and been. Secondly, you aspire; you see above you the snow-capped peaks, and your heart longs to climb and to stand there. Thirdly, these are followed by the appreciation of the possibility of your being blameless and harmless and without rebuke. If a man refuses to believe that he can be a saint, he never will become one. If a man says, I cannot hope to be more than conqueror, God Himself cannot save him. When the Spirit of God is within you, there rises up a consciousness that you have the capacity for the highest possible attainments, because you were made and redeemed in the image of God, and because the germ of the Christ-nature has been sown in your spirit. Two men go through a picture-gallery. Each sees the same masterpiece. One says, I cannot imagine how that can be done. The other man says, I also am a painter. That second man is capable of producing a picture which also shall outlive. You must believe that you can be a saint, even you. You must dare to believe it, because the Christ-germ is sown in your character, and because God is working in you to will and to do. Fourthly, the determination, I will. There should be a moment in the history of us all when each shall say—Cost what it may, I will not yield again; I will arise to be what God wants to make me; I will yield myself to Him; I will reckon myself to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ; I will yield myself to the power that worketh in me. Discontent, aspiration, appreciation of the possibilities of saintliness, and resolve.

The will of God is working in you to-day. Cannot you take those four steps? Are you going back to live the old self-indulgent life? If so, these words will be a curse to you, for nothing injures the soul so much as to know the truth and yet fall back into the ditch.

God's Work for Work.

He works to Work.—Does God allow babes to want milk, and then, in the eternal ordering of things, not provide milk? Does not the longing of the little child argue that somewhere, presumably in the mother's breast, there is the supply? Do the swallows begin to gather around the eaves of our houses, longing for a sunny clime, and is there no such realm of sunshine to be reached over land and sea? Do the young lions in the winter roar for food, that God does not furnish? Do you think that God is going to give us this discontent with ourselves, this yearning after Himself, and is going to mock us? That would be the work of a devil. If you hold that God is good and loving and holy, your very aspirations are a proof that He who works in you to will, is prepared to work in you to do. But, till now, we have done so much by our own resolutions, that we have shut His doing out. If only we would relinquish our efforts after sanctification, as once we relinquished those after justification, and if we said to Him: "Great God, work out Thine own ideal in my poor weak nature," He would will and He would work. God's morality and God's efficiency are co-equal.

God’s Satisfaction.

God's Satisfaction.—“For His good pleasure." When He made the world, He said it was very good; then sin came, and selfishness; and the dull dark ages passed, till Jesus came, who opened His nature to the Father, though He were the Son of God. The mystery of the Incarnation lies in this: our Lord gave up the exercise of His inherent deity as the Son of God, and became dependent on the Father, and the Father wrought perfectly through the yielded nature of the Son. Oh, ponder this! The Father wrought perfectly in the yielded nature of Jesus, and the result was summed up in the cry, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." In some such manner it is possible to walk worthy of God unto all pleasing. It is possible to have this testimony, even in our mortal life, that we have pleased God. At the end of every day, as we lie down to sleep--we may hear the whisper of God's voice saying, "Dear child, I am pleased with you." But you can only have it by allowing Him in silence, in solitude, in obedience, to work in you, to will and to do of His own good pleasure.

An Appeal to You.

Will you begin now? He may be working in you to confess to that fellow-Christian that you were unkind in your speech or act. Work it out. He may be working in you to give up that line of business about which you have been doubtful lately. Give it up. He may be working in you to be sweeter in your home, and gentler in your speech. Begin. He may be working in you to alter your relations with some with whom you have dealings that are not as they should be. Alter them. This very day let God begin to speak, and work and will; and then work out what He works in. God will not work apart from you, but He wants to work through you. Let Him. Yield to Him, and let this be the day when you shall begin to live in the power of the mighty Indwelling One.


Verses 14-16

STARS TO SHINE: VOICES TO SPEAK

Philippians 2:14-16

Retrospect.

Whenever we review the past, our souls are filled with gratitude to God for all the wonderful way that He has led us; but, as we thank Him, we are filled with a sorrowful and infinite regret, and we cannot forget, amid the many mercies we recall, the story of our repeated failure and shortcoming. Yet, mingling with gratitude and sorrow are hope, resolve, and the decision that the past shall be buried by the past, and that we will step forward to an entirely new life of prayer, consecration, and devotion. These three words—thankfulness, confession, and resolve—surely characterise the feelings of all intelligent and thoughtful persons, who by regeneration, through the Holy Spirit applying the Word of Truth, and by adoption into the family of God, have been dissociated from this sinful and adulterous generation, and are reckoned among the children of the resurrection, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

In this paragraph we are brought face to face with the Divine ideal—an ideal which, alas! we have too little realised, but which henceforth shall be realised with new hope. We discover, also, the infinite sources of power which we have not always realised—that God works in us. We are also taught to set ourselves, with new persistency, to the working out of that which God is working in.

Our Ideal as the Children of God.

The Negative Side.

If you will follow out the paragraph step by step, link by link, you will see that there is the negative and the positive side. There is, first, the NEGATIVE SIDE. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be the sons of God, without rebuke," or, as the R.V. puts it, more accurately, without blemish. To be without blemish is perpetually held up as the supreme ideal of the Christian life. "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love." "That it (the Church) should be holy and without blemish." "To present you holy and without blemish." The Lamb of God was without blemish, and we are called to be the same. There is the more necessity that we should rise to the level of our high calling, because our lives are cast into the midst of a community of distorted vision and oblique ways--"a crooked and perverse generation." This description of society is as true to-day as it ever was. Whether we look at political or social life, the newspapers or the streets, the tone of conversation in the drawing-rooms or on ocean steamers, everything vindicates the adjectives of the Apostle.

The prime method of being without blemish is to do all things "without murmurings and disputings." Do not allow yourselves to fall into discontented moods, and do not indulge in bitter conflict with others. Murmurings stand for all sorts of ill-concealed, half-checked, and half-uttered complaints. They are the low grumblings of a man who is swayed inwardly by impatient thoughts and hard feelings. Disputings are murmurings come to the surface, and breaking out into captious and angry discussions. Keep the heart and the tongue right by the grace of God, and you will be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without blemish.

Blamelessness is faultlessness, stainlessness—correctness in all the externals of life, as Zacharias and Elisabeth were, who walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. Harmlessness refers to the essential purity, simplicity, and sincerity, which should characterise all followers of Christ, because there is no admixture of evil thoughts or desires in their aims or conduct.

Our Ideal: The Positive Side.

Secondly, there is the POSITIVE side. Phillips Brooks says: "It is the sincere and deep conviction of my soul, that if the Christian faith does not culminate and complete itself in the effort to make itself known to all the world, that faith appears to me to be a thoroughly unreal and insignificant thing, destitute of power for a single life, and incapable of being convincingly proved to be true." He says also: "Always the enlargement of the faith brings the endearment of the faith; and to give the Saviour to others makes Him more thoroughly our own."

Shine as Stars.

Such thoughts were in the Apostle's heart when he urged his converts to shine and hold forth the word of Life. (1) If they were Christians at all, they must be stars shining amid the darkness of the world. The image before his mind was that of a new star floating into sight, taking its place among the constellations of the skies, and shedding forth its beams, so as to reproduce its own luminosity as widely as possible, though with the stillness which has no audible voice or language. Here is the consistency and beauty of a holy soul, endeavouring to pass on its nature to other souls, that they too may be light in the Lord.

As we look out on nature, we find that the object for which every flower spreads its colour and perfume is to attract the bee, so that it may propagate its kind. The flower must reproduce itself, or show itself unworthy of the Gardener who produced it not for itself alone. Every living thing exists to pass on its nature; and surely the Christian soul cannot be content unless it has sent itself forward into other lives and coming generations.

One of the most interesting studies is that of inductive electricity. When two wires lie side by side, and a stream of electricity is sent through the one, a faint vibration and reproduction of it will be perceived in the other. It is in this way that, on the long lines of American travel, you are able to telegraph from your moving train to the city you are nearing. The wires along the track are sympathetic with the transmitter on the train. For the same reason, when speaking through the telephone, one can hear the murmur of other wires. It is not that they really touch, but they are deeply sympathetic.

Our Influence on other Souls.

There is something like this in our influence upon other souls. There are induced currents for good or bad. You, as a child of God, cannot come in contact with other men who belong to this crooked and perverse generation, without starting within them the vibrations of your own holiness, the yearning for something better than they are, the appetite, the hunger and thirst, after the unseen and the eternal, the condemnation of their sin, and the creation within them of the vibrations and waves of desire to be other than they are. It is also true that you cannot come in contact with a bad man, whose mind is steeped in vice, and whose life is full of base and disgraceful actions, without a corresponding current being induced in yourself. We are always, for good or bad, affecting those who are in close contact with us, and this altogether apart from our volition, and simply by the strength of our character.

Hence it is that Richter, the great German thinker, says: "If thou Knowest how every black thought of thine, and every jealous thought, takes root outside of thee, and goes on for half a century pushing and boring its healing or poisonous roots through the earth, ah, how carefully wouldst thou grow, how carefully wouldst thou choose and think!" And Bishop Huntingdon is on the same line when he says: "There is some nameless influence going out from the very least conscious thing in God's creation, which alters and shapes in its measure every man, woman, and child within its influence."

A Great Responsibility.

It is almost terrible to live with these thoughts pressing on one's heart—that one can never speak a word, never transact a piece of business, that one's face is never seen lighted up with the radiance of God, or clouded and despondent, without it being made harder or easier for other men to live a good life. Every one of us, every day, resembles Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made other men sin; or we are lifting other men into the light, and peace, and joy of God. No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; but the life of every one is telling upon an increasing number of mankind. What a solemn responsibility it is to live! What infinite regret should oppress our souls at the thought that we have flung shadows over so many lives which God meant to be happy; that we have put so many stumbling-blocks in people's ways to whom God meant that we should offer stepping-stones; that our life has been for the shame and sorrow rather than for the uplifting and comfort of those around us!

Ours can never be sunshine, the intrinsic light of the sun. At the most we shall never be able to diffuse more than the borrowed light of the star; but this is something, and we may shine amid the dark night which has rested on mankind ever since the sun went down on Calvary in blood-red skies. Ere long the dawn will break on the sky, and we shall become invisible amid the radiance of the coming Lord.

Voices to Speak for God.

(2) Besides being a star, we must be a voice; we are to hold forth the word of Life. We cannot hold forth the word without words. It is our duty to speak to those in our immediate circle, that there may be no regret at the end of life. This wonderful gift of human speech, the most marvellous faculty with which any one of us is endowed, must be used to pass on the word of the Kingdom. Lay yourself before God, and your mouth in the very dust, and ask that the Holy Spirit may take your lips, and set them on fire for Himself, that you may be able not only to shine with the mild radiance of a stainless and beautiful character, but that you may utter the word of Life to those who have never given heed to it. Surely the contemplation of such an ideal must fill us with infinite regret. As we go over item after item, we see that there is not one trait to which we can lay claim without considerable misgiving. We are not without blemish! We have not refrained from murmurings and disputings! We have not been blameless and harmless! As we catch sight of God's ideal, we abhor ourselves. As we hear the perfect music, we lament our own discordant notes. As we see the solemn troops and sweet societies of Heaven, we realise how coarse and unrefined our manners are. There cannot be an evening in our life in which, as we review the day, we do not require the precious Blood of Christ.

The Power by which Ideal is Rendered Possible.

The past is gone, never to be recalled; and if we are to trust our resolutions, we must certainly and inevitably fall again. But our text says that God is in us; that God, who makes the universe His home, has come to dwell in our hearts, not as a stranger who tarries for a night, but as an abiding, indwelling guest; and that our God is in us to will and to work of His own good pleasure. We have often been conscious of it. Have there not often been within us induced currents of Divine electricity, promptings and inspirations to unselfishness, purity, and devotion, which, alas! we have too often resisted? Ponder again the wondrous message!

God works in us to will. He does not overpower our will, or treat us as automata which He can move at His choice. He approaches us as intelligent beings, who may refuse, as they may accept and yield. At the most He can only suggest certain lines of conduct, but it is left to us to say whether we will make them our own or not. Do you not sometimes feel rising up within you a great desire, a yearning, a drawing, a purpose to be other than you are? Ah! this is God working in you to wish and will. Be very thankful, because you know that God is taking pains with your character, only be sure to let Him have your eager and complete response.

God works in us to work. God never works in us to will without empowering us to perform that to which He prompts. He has with Him a sufficiency of power equivalent to our necessity, and if we will turn to Him for it, He will enable us to carry out every prompting of His will. We may not remember the moment when He entered; we may not have heard the sound of His feet along the passage-way of our heart; He may have stolen in on the morning light, in the waft of the wind, or on the fragrance of flowers--but He is in thy soul and mine. He is come to take our side against sin. The Father waits to make the child like Himself, first by prompting him to will good things, and then by energising him to do the things He wills. That is our hope; and our only hope for the coming days, that they may be better than the past, is the recognition that our ideal is God's for us, and He waits to make it a living fact.

Our Duty to Work Out what He Works In.

Is there anything in life or heart which has of late caused you solicitude? Have you been doubtful about a certain line of conduct? Has something which you did in the past arisen and made you feel that you ought to make restitution and reparation? Is there some one habit, a method of life, an inner idol, an unopened cupboard, which has not been consecrated absolutely to Him? Do you realise that there is the constant pressure by Another than yourself dealing with it? Do you hear the thud of the engine deep down in your soul; the movement of the piston that sends the quiver of the vibration through the whole of your being? Be very thankful, for God is come to fight the evil of your nature, as a mother sets herself beside her child to fight the disease which is sapping his life.

But God's efforts on our behalf will be abortive unless we work out what He works in. If He wills in us to break with some evil habit, we must will the same. Our will must yield to His, as the skiff to the stream that bears it on its current. If He bids us take up our bed and walk, we must dare to believe that we can do it, and availing ourselves of His might, we must spring to our feet. If He sends us on His divine errands, we must not be rebellious nor hold ourselves back. Our salvation lies in achieving deliverance from every form of sin, and it is only by degrees that we learn all that sin is, and become emancipated from its dominion and love.

With Fear and Trembling.

Let us do this "with fear and trembling." If an illustrious artist spends a morning with one of his students, helping him to finish some picture at which he has been working hard but unsuccessfully, the young man does not fear the artist, but trembles lest he may not make the best possible use of his kindness. So, my soul, when the great God comes to thee, and says, "I am going to save thee from thy sins," thou must take good heed to garner up all His gracious help with miserly care, full of anxiety lest thou shouldest fail to avail thyself of the least trust, the smallest prompting. He will do His work effectually and thoroughly; let Him have full scope, and thou shalt be more than satisfied.

Oh, Thou who workest through the universe, who fulfillest Thine own high purpose, so that seraphs, angels, and all holy beings are infilled by Thee, come to-day and fill us, infill our whole nature, then spirit, soul, and body shall be impenetrated by Thine energy, and shall realise Thine ideal!


Verse 17-18

THE SACRIFICIAL SIDE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Philippians 2:17-18

AGAIN the Apostle refers to the "day of Christ." He was constantly anticipating the coming of the Lord. His early Epistles specially abound in references to that event which would bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of all hearts, so that each man should have his praise from God. He spoke of his being alive and remaining unto the coming of the Saviour, and as anticipating that his mortality would be swallowed up of life. Often, amid his imprisonment, he must have listened for the sounding of the trumpet of God, and the songs which accompanied his returning Lord. Invariably he so lived and laboured, that whenever that day came, whether to close his earthly life or afterwards he might receive the reward, which would be to him what the crown of amaranth was to the successful competitor in the games.

Paul's Great Fear.

Paul's incessant fear was that he might run or labour in vain. There are many expressions of it. In one place he expresses the fear lest all the work which he had built upon the foundation, which God had previously laid, should be burned up, and he should suffer loss; in another he gives utterance to the dread lest he should be a castaway (or rejected) as one who had no right to the prize; here, he uses the words "in vain" as though some mistake on his part should obliterate all the results of the work, which he had laboriously sought to achieve for his Lord.

How is it with us?

A very solemn inquiry is suggested to us all. Are we running in vain? Are we labouring in vain? Life is full of running to and fro, and incessant labour, but we may gravely ask whether at the end there will be aught to show commensurate with the energy we have expended. So many days are lived in vain! So many books are written in vain! So many sermons preached in vain! So many philanthropic activities expended in vain!

A Condition of Success.

It is, however, certain that before any service that we do for God or man is likely to be of lasting and permanent benefit, it must be saturated with our heart's blood. That which costs us nothing will not benefit others. If there is no expenditure of tears and prayer, if that love, of which the Apostle speaks in another place, which costs, is wanting, we may speak with the tongues of men and of angels, may know all mysteries and all knowledge, may bestow all our goods to feed the poor, but it will profit nothing. Let us rather seek to be poured forth as a libation than to do much without feeling the least travail of soul. As the fertility of Egypt in any year is in direct proportion to the height that the waters of the Nile measure on the Nilometer, so the amount of our real fruitfulness in the world is gauged by the expenditure of our spiritual force.

It was because Moses was prepared to be blotted from the Book of God for his people that he carried them for forty years through the desert, and deposited them on the very borders of the Promised Land. It was because Jesus wept over Jerusalem that He was able to send a Pentecost on the guilty city. It was because Paul was prepared to be accursed for his brethren according to the flesh, that he was able to turn so many from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. It is when Zion travails that she brings forth her children. No heart pangs, no spiritual seed.

The Call for Sacrifice.

The Christian life should be a sacrifice. Where faith in Christ is a reality, it will lead not simply to a life service, which becomes a liturgy, but also to sacrifice. "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well-pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service."

There is only one sacrifice which can take away sin, and which was offered once for all. "When He had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever He sat down on the right hand of God": "By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." But the whole Church of God is called to follow the Master's steps in the sacrifice of her life for men. She must fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ; she must be prepared to suffer with Him; she must surrender the joy that is set before her of ease, and luxury, and earthly power, in order that she may go out to her Lord without the camp, bearing His reproach. He is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, and by His one sufficient sacrifice has opened the way into peace, but there is a sacrifice of what the world deems choicest and best in order that the highest interest of men should be better served, which is the peculiar prerogative, not only of the Church of Christ collectively, but of each individual soul.

Have we our Sacrifice?

Is there sacrifice in your life and mine? I knew, for instance, of the case of a young girl, who promised her mother upon her dying bed, that she would not accept an offer of marriage until she had seen the younger children well started in life, and had performed the last offices for her father. I do not here comment upon the unwisdom of a mother exacting such a pledge from her child, but only cite the fact. As a result, when, three years after her mother's death, Love looked into the window of that girl's soul, and one who was altogether suitable for her asked her to be his wife, she felt bound to refuse, and nobly stood by her charge until the whole family passed out of her care into homes of their own. It was a supreme relinquishment of all that a woman holds dearest, but how noble it was!

Is not sacrifice of this sort constantly being demanded of us, have we not all to turn from the doors that stand wide open on our mountains of transfiguration, in order to descend into the valley, where the cross of self-denial stands with wide-open arms, awaiting us? Whenever such is the case, our faith is working out in sacrifice, our obedience to the will of God is enabling us to surrender all things, that we may more efficiently do the high work of Jesus for others. We may well doubt whether we are true followers of the Crucified, or have entered into any true experience of His religion, unless there is the trace of the Cross somewhere, whether known to men, or known only to Christ.

When a deluded man set himself up as the Christ of to-day, the indignant crowd that gathered around the doors of his church demanded that he should show them his hands, meaning that if he were the Christ, the marks of the nails would certainly be apparent. It was a just request. People know well enough that Christ stands for sacrifice, and that His followers can expect no better treatment than He experienced. And again we may put the question to ourselves: Does our faith cost us anything, and is our service to man and God often sealed by blood?

Paul Ready to be Offered.

The Apostle was willing to yield his life's blood as a libation. Moses said, "He that offereth his oblation must offer wine for the drink offering, the fourth part of an hin shall he prepare with the burnt offering or for the sacrifice, for each lamb" (Numbers 15:5). This was doubtless in the Apostle's mind when he spoke of being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of their faith. (See R.V. margin.)

What unity there was between his sufferings in Rome and theirs in Philippi! It seemed to him as though they had reached a common altar, and were engaged in one common act of devotion. Not only did their faith lead them to considerable sacrifice in order to supply his needs, but it was likely to extort a still greater surrender, even of life itself in the defence of the truth; but in that same cause it was not improbable that sooner or later he would have to shed his blood. There was indeed an if in the case. "If I am offered," etc., but whilst Nero was on the throne, and the hatred of the Jews so virulent, there was little hope that he would escape.

The prospect, however, did not fill him with dread. On the contrary, he anticipated it as though it were a marriage. The thought that he was consummating the faith and service of the Philippians, who had first learnt to love God through his ministry, was a cause of infinite delight.

The Joy of Sacrifice.

It was thus that the martyrs pressed to the scaffold and stake, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's name. So great was the enthusiasm in the early days, that the Church authorities had to publish edicts, prohibiting the Christians of their time from hazarding their lives, or throwing them needlessly away. When once the soul has caught sight of the true significance of life, and has learnt the privilege which is within its reach, of identifying itself with the Son of God in His great act of Redemption, a similar glow of joy begins to cast its radiance over passages of life that hitherto had been dark and forbidding. The joy of the Lord becomes a source of altogether new strength. Partnership with Jesus in the redemption of the world, opens the door to partnership in those fountains of blessedness that rise within His soul, and to which He referred, when He said, "Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh from you"; "These things have I said unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."


Verses 19-30

NOT SORROW UPON SORROW

Philippians 2:19-30

The Bible is so Divine because it is so human. This chapter began with the sorrows of the Son of God; it ends with the sorrow of His Apostle; and the Holy Spirit does not deem it incongruous to deal first with the wonderful condescension of our blessed Master from the supernal Throne to the Cross of shame, and then to turn back to what was transacting in a human breast, of hope and fear, of sorrow and joy, on the banks of the muddy Tiber. So, beloved, however great God is, and however vast the range and circumference of His interests, there is not one tear that you shed, one sorrow that you feel, that is not of exceeding importance and care to Him. The Great God, who, in the Person of His Son, stooped from the Throne to the Cross, and is now exalted above all conception, yet thinks of His prisoner in the hired house at Rome, and sees to it that the pressure of sorrow shall not be too great for the delicate machinery of his frail heart to sustain.

The facts as here stated.—The Philippian Church; the Apostle Paul; Timothy; Epaphroditus; God.

The Church at Philippi.

(1) The Church at Philippi (Philippians 2:25-30). For ten years the Christians there had not assisted the Apostle; not that they had forgotten him, but because they had had no opportunity. He was in circumstances where they could not reach him. It might have been supposed that they had forgotten, but such love as theirs never forgets. It may not be able to furnish assistance, but it still burns on the altar of the heart.

Be loyal to your love; whatever else you forget in the world, never forget the claims of friendship. Let love be cherished above all other treasures. Trust each other's love, and when there is no sign or token, still believe that your friend is loyal, and only awaiting the moment when his help may reveal an undying, unaltering affection. The Philippians were only waiting until the time came, the time when they could help best. Give a man bread when he is hungry, drink when he is thirsty, and clothes when he is naked; watch your moment. Ah, if we would but watch the timely moment, when some spirit is failing, when hope threatens to expire, when heart and soul faint, and would strike it then, how many desperate deeds we should arrest, and how many heart-broken ones we should encourage to face with fresh hope the difficulty and responsibility of life! Be true to your friends; trust your friends; redeem the opportunity.

The Imprisoned Apostle.

(2) The Apostle Paul. He could preach, but he was a handcuffed prisoner; and in that dreary apartment, from which he looked out wearily upon liberty, he was often lonely. He had sent everybody away whom he could trust, except Timothy and Epaphroditus. But he was extremely anxious about the welfare of his Philippian friends; and he knew that they were equally anxious about him; he gave up, therefore, the one man of all others who was dear to him--Timothy--and sent him to bring word about their state, and that they might be comforted in knowing about his. Because the Philippians were so true in their love to him, he counted no sacrifice too great to show his love to them. The man who lives nearest God is always nearest his fellows, and he who is most sensitive towards God is most sensitive towards man, and will rather go without his dearest and nearest, to show how much he is prepared to do to sympathise with and help others. Be always willing to sacrifice your Timothy's if you may give a ray of comfort to the distant friends at Philippi.

The Helper, Timothy.

(3) Timothy. Timothy loved Paul as a child his father (Philippians 2:22, R.V.). He had been delicately reared; his constitution was weak, so much so that the Apostle even advised him to take a little wine for his often infirmities; and perhaps he was too sensitive to stand against strong opposition and dislike. But, with all this, he was a man of rare sweetness of disposition and grace of character. He had great faith in the Lord Jesus, and was staunch and loyal to his friend. Probably his love to Paul strengthened his character, and the demand that Paul made on him brought out his noblest and best, so that young Timothy grew to be a hero under the touch of love. What a wonderful power love is--the right kind of love! There is a selfish, hurtful, harmful love that enervates and injures its objects; there is another, an unselfish love, that draws out the best and noblest, making the timid strong and brave, and eliciting the hero that had lain buried in the soul. Timothy would therefore be sent to Philippi, as soon as the Apostle knew how his trial would turn out; and probably the Apostle would closely follow him (Philippians 2:23-24).

“My Brother.”

(4) Epaphroditus. The Apostle speaks of Epaphroditus, who was to carry this Epistle, as the minister and apostle from Philippi, because he had brought the gifts of Philippi over sea and land. He describes him also, with exquisite delicacy, as My brother. There is no kinship so close as that brotherhood into which a common love to God brings two men. "My brother, my fellow-worker, my fellow-soldier" (Philippians 2:25, R.V.). Epaphroditus was a man of much less gift than Paul, yet Paul seemed to forget the disparity and speaks of him as his equal—my fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, because to work for Christ, and to fight side by side in the ranks of Christ's Gospel, must bring soul close to soul.

Epaphroditus, the Suppliant.

Epaphroditus is probably referred to as Epaphras in Colossians 4:12, and there we learn that he laboured fervently in prayer, that the distant Churches might be perfect in all the will of God. The word used of this good man's prayer, is agonise; he agonised as a gladiator in an amphitheatre, or an athlete in an arena. He was so intense in his intercession for his brethren in the faith, that it seemed as though his very veins stood out as whipcord, and his whole soul was knit into an agony. This simple man prayed so earnestly that Paul said he was like a gladiator wrestling in the amphitheatre. He had fallen sick; perhaps he had taken Roman-fever when diving down into some of the worst parts of Rome to look after lost men, who, like Onesimus, had gone astray, and in one of these terrible dens of infamy, where the air was heavy with disease and impurity, this good man Epaphroditus was taken ill (Philippians 2:30). When tidings came to the Apostle, they nearly broke his heart, because he feared that his friend would die, and he be unable to visit him or to help.

Epaphroditus was, however, spared, but in his convalescence was sore troubled, because, somehow, the Philippians had come to hear of his sickness, and would naturally be filled with profound anxiety about it. So delicate is life in its sensitiveness. It is a difficult question to decide how much love ought to tell the loved one. You might have supposed Epaphroditus ought to tell, and would be glad to tell, his Philippian friends. But he thought otherwise. He felt that they had trouble and responsibility and anguish enough, and he did not want to add one additional burden to those who were already weighted to the ground.

Reticence and Frankness.

Perhaps it is wise, when we are so far away from those we love that they cannot possibly help us, to keep back something of the pain and sorrow through which we are going; but with those whom we are meeting day by day we should not be reticent, for reticence is often the death-blow of love. The only thing about which we do well to be reticent to our intimate friends is when we have been slighted or injured. Under such circumstances it is good not to speak, because, maybe, we shall magnify the slight into an actual wrong, whilst if we do not speak about it we shall forget it.

In other things it is well to be frank. Confidence is the native air of love. Those words of Lord Bacon's, in his inimitable essay upon Friendship, are perfectly true. "We know," he says, "that diseases of stoppings and suffocations are most dangerous to the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind. You may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flower of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession."

We must admire Epaphroditus, whose love was so sensitive that he said: "They cannot help me; if they were near enough to nurse me I would tell them, but they are too far away." But when he knew that tidings of his illness but not of his convalescence had reached them, the news almost caused a relapse.

God’s Care.

(5) God. St. Paul lived in a very atmosphere of love. Think of it. All around, the world lay in hate, malice, and envy; but in that hired room in Rome there was the intense focus-point of love. In the midst of winter all around, there was summer in that hired house. In the midst of the dark night of heathenism there was the one beautiful spot of heavenly life.

The Philippian gifts were all about the place, showing they had not forgotten him. So far from forgetting them, the Apostle was thinking of sending Timothy, though it seemed like tearing a part of himself away. Timothy was, also, as intent on serving him as a child a father, and daring to share his bonds and shame. In addition, there was Epaphroditus anxious because the Philippians were anxious, and distressed beyond measure because he added to their grief. There was a perfect hothouse of love—palms, fruits, and flowers in a tropical atmosphere amid the wintry climate. And out of all that there came this blessed faith in God that He would not add sorrow to sorrow. Paul said to himself: "I am quite sure God is just like man, only better. I am quite sure that God is as thoughtful and sensitive as we are about one another. I would not let Epaphroditus die, unless there were some urgent reason to the contrary; if I could spare a servant of mine sorrow I would." He argued from the love of which he was personally conscious to the love above him, and said: "God is like a father, mother, brother, sister, friend, all in one. The most tender, gentle, sensitive being in the whole universe is God, and He will not add sorrow to sorrow. There must be sorrow, that I may learn to sympathise with sorrow, that my heart may be open towards all who suffer; but there will be no needless adding of sorrow to sorrow." What a noble conception is presented to us here of how human love lifts man to understand the Divine love! We argue from the human to the Divine: "How much more shall your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask Him." He will not overdrive His flock; nor give us more than we can bear; nor add one drop of needless grief to our heart's burden.

Christ and Human Friendship.

WE MAY DRAW THREE CONCLUSIONS.—First, that Christ recognises human friendships. Love is the one thing that makes life worth living. One has said: "I would rather be condemned to be led out and hung, if I knew one human soul would love me for a week beforehand and honour me afterwards, than live half a century to be nothing to any living creature." That life is richest which has most true friends; that life is most worth living which is surrounded by the truest and tenderest hearts. But do we prize human love enough? Do we requite it as we should? Are we not too careless of these pearls of spiritual wealth? Do we not break the necklace and loose the pearls too recklessly? Are there not people in our own home-circle who, if they were to die this week, would haunt our memory with infinite regret? "George," she said, "I was a foolish girl, but I always loved you." But the kisses that poured from the husband's lips were too late to arrest the death, and undo the lovelessness of his treatment of the one whom he promised to love with all his heart; and he must suffer always afterwards the gnawing of a constant sorrow.

How eminently careful we ought to be to be loyal to love; to be sensitive not needlessly to hurt, and never to fall beneath the high standard put by Jesus Christ in his loyalty to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the rest. Jesus Christ recognises human love. Lacordaire, the great French preacher, said, "Above all things, be kind. Kindness is the one thing in which we most resemble God and help men. Kindness in mutual relations is the principal charm of life." It would, perhaps, be better to use the word love instead of kindness; for kindness is often mere philanthropy, whereas love is of God. Christ honours friendship.

God as our Friend.

Secondly, we may dare to impute to God the feelings that we impute to our dearest friend. "That I might not have sorrow upon sorrow." Some people are always asking the question, Do you love God? It is far better to dwell on the assurance that God loves you. It is a far more important thing to reckon that God loves you, than for you to try to love God. It is no wonder that people abstain from our places of worship, and go away into sin and worldliness, because the Church has insisted so constantly that they must love God, and they cannot; whereas if the Church would tell people that God loves them, and that they may absolutely reckon on His love, there would be an attraction in the message which would draw them to the Saviour. In God's love they may always dare to impute the very delicacy and tenderness which Paul felt towards Philippi, or Epaphroditus towards his fellow-Christians.

"And so beside the silent sea

I wait the muffled oar:

No harm from Him can come to me

On ocean or on shore.

"I know not where His islands lift

Their fronded palms in air;

I only know I cannot drift

Beyond His love and care."

Always know and believe in the love of God. God is Love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Influence of the Love of God.

Thirdly, the love of God, when it is believed in, makes us very sensitive to other people. We have our blessed human friendships. From these we rise to conceive of God, and from God we come back to love all men. As with waterfalls, the water dropping from a great height scatters a spray, which makes the stones and boulders array themselves in verdure; so the love of God, falling upon our hearts, will make us very tender towards our fellow-Christians and all men. We must love the suffering and the lost, the loveless and implacable, with something of the love that fills the heart of God, and which never fails. From individuals we rise to God, from God we return to individuals, and from individuals we go forth to the great world.

Love is the only clue to the mysteries of life. As one grows older and knows more, one is more absolutely appalled at the mysteries of sin, and pain, and evil, and there is no clue but to believe that God loves, and that in our turn we must love. St. John says: "Herein is love made perfect that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment.'' When the worlds crash to ruin, when the universe is in the throes of dissolution, and the eternal certainties are revealed, the only thing which will make the soul strong and unmoved will be the sense that the eternal God has loved it in Christ, and that it has sought to live a life of tender holy love, which it will continue to live for evermore.

If you do not love God, or are not conscious that God loves you, what have you to make you bold in the Day of Judgment? But here stands the Christ Who loves you, Who in love came to die for you, Who by the Spirit is knocking at the door of your heart, Who is pouring out to you a very torrent of love. Have you been disloyal to it? Have you tried its patience to the uttermost? Have you repaid it as Othello did the loving devotion of Desdemona? All, will not your hell be your remorse, that you thus refused the love of God in Christ? God help you. Believe that God loves you in Christ, and go forth to live a life of perfect love, not causing sorrow upon sorrow, either to Him who loves you so unutterably, or to any other living soul.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, F.B. "Commentary on Philippians 2:4". "Meyer's Devotional Commentary on Philippians". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcp/philippians-2.html.

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