1 Thessalonians 2:9
Surely you recall, brothers, our labor and toil. We worked night and day so that we would not be a burden to anyone while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
A Retrospect of His Disinterested and Self-Sacrificing LaborsT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 2:9
The Characteristics of St. Paul's Preaching At ThessalonicaB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
The Manner of the Preachers; Or, Self-PortraitureR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
A Holy Life Recognized1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
A Walk Worthy of GodDean Vaughan.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
An Unmercenary Teacher1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Apostolic Behaviour and MethodsJ. Hutchison, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Christian MagnanimityJ. Witherspoon, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Consistency At Home1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Eagles and FliesC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Essential Elements of Success in PreachingG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Holy InstrumentsR. McCheyne.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Not to Disgrace ReligionW. Buxton.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Preaching While WalkingPaxton Hood.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Sixty Years of Pure Life1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
St. Paul's Labours in ThessalonicaBp. Alexander.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
That Ye Would Walk Worthy of GodF. A. Noble, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The Dignity and Duty of God1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The Faithful PastorJ. Hill, B. D.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The Influence of a Holy LifeF. W. Farrar.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The Power of a Christian LifeD. Thomas, B. A., of Bristol.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Walk Worthy of GodW. Birch.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Walking WorthilyA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Walking Worthy of GodN. Macleod, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
He next recalls the circumstances of his ardent and laborious ministry amongst them. "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God."

I. THE MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLE WAS ALWAYS LABORIOUS. He could say to the Corinthians that "he had approved himself as the minister of God in labors;" that "in labors he was more abundant" (2 Corinthians 6:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 11:23); exhausting his strength daily in his eager anxiety to reach the people with the gospel of God. If ever man went to the edge of his possibility, it was the Apostle Paul. The labor might be exhausting in itself, or on account of the obstacles thrown in his way, but it became the habit of his daily life.

II. IT WAS DOUBLY LABORIOUS AT THESSALONICA ON ACCOUNT OF THE NECESSITY HE IMPOSED UPON HIMSELF OF WORKING FOR HIS LIVING. Occupied in preaching or teaching through the day, he devoted his nights to his craft as a tent-maker.

1. The necessity in question was not imposed by either the Mosaic or the Christian Law. He showed to the Corinthians that alike natural justice, the Mosaic ordinance, and positive law, as announced by our Lord himself, required them to support the ministers of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9.). "They who preach the gospel shall also live of the gospel."

2. It was a necessity based upon a high Christian expediency. At Corinth he thought good "not to use his power in the gospel," and therefore preached the gospel there "without charge." The malignity of Jewish enemies led him to avoid even the appearance of covetous ness, or of attempting to "make a gain" of the Corinthians. We do not know under what circumstances he was led to pursue a similar course at Thessalonica. It may have been from similar accusations, or from a tendency he had observed among certain saints in the city to forswear work and go about as "busybodies." But his policy was exceptional, and affords no rule in modern times unless the circumstances should again become exceptional.

3. It was a necessity cheerfully accepted for the good of the Thessalonians. He had but two means of support in the city.

(1) He was not supported by super natural means, like Elijah in the desert.

(2) He was occasionally helped by the thoughtful kindness of the Philippians. "I robbed other Churches," he tells the Corinthians, "taking wages of them to do you service." He tells the Philippians, "For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again to my necessities" (Philippians 4:15-17).

(3) He had to supplement these occasional-gifts by "working with his own hands." Every Jew had to learn a trade. The apostle thus dignifies common industry. - T.C.

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail
As time indicated on the dial answers to the perfect mechanism of the watch, so the personal example of the preacher must answer to the words he utters. The most accomplished elocution, the most captivating style, will be fruitless unless backed with the strength of a complete, beautiful, spiritual character. Their moral consistency seen —

I. IN THE UNSELFISH PRINCIPLE THAT GOVERNED THEM IN THEIR WORK (ver. 2). The apostle invariably asserted the right of ministerial maintenance. In another place he affirms that, not merely naked equity and the spirit of the Mosaic law, but also a positive ordinance of Christ requires this. In this early stage of the work, the apostle waived this claim. It might be on account of the poverty of the converts, or on account of the calumnious charge of covetousness. To crush all suspicion of interested motives, these noble missionaries refused "to be chargeable unto any one of them," depending for their support upon the remittances of the Philippians, and on their own labour. Thus did they evidence their supreme desire to be, not gain, but the proclamation of the gospel; an example which has its counterpart in the brave, devoted, self-denying labours of many a modern missionary.

II. IN THE MAINTENANCE OF A BLAMELESS DEPORTMENT (ver. 10). A Roman prince of the celebrated house of Colonna, whose virtues had sustained him alike in prosperous and adverse times, was once driven into exile, and when reduced to extremity he was asked, "Where is now your fortress?" He laid his hand upon his heart, and answered, "Here!" A conscious sense of integrity threw a strength and majesty around him in his sufferings. An inward consciousness of purity prompted these workers to appeal to those who were best acquainted with them. They behaved holily toward God, justly toward men, and unblameably in every regard. "Among you that believe." Believers could best understand the secret of their whole life, its aims and motives, its tendencies and issues; and on them it would have an irresistible impression. It is often the fate of the public teacher, while blameless, to be unmercifully blamed by those who are outside the circle of his work. The world retains all its historic enmity to the truth, and is as venomous as ever in its expression.


1. The lofty standard set, up. "That ye would walk worthy of God." How sublime and dignified the Christian character may become — to walk worthily of God! in harmony with His nature, His law — with our profession of attachment to Him. To the production of this grand result all their efforts were bent. "As a father doth his children," so they "exhorted" with all earnestness, "comforted" with all loving sympathy, and "charged with all fidelity and authority." The preacher must be master of every art necessary to success.

2. The motive to reach the standard. "Who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory" — His own glorious kingdom. We are invited to enter this kingdom on earth, and participate in its blessings; but the full splendours of that kingdom are reserved for the heavenly world. How brief and insignificant will the sufferings and sorrows of the present appear, contrasted with the ineffable bliss of the future state! "Do you want anything?" eagerly asked the loved ones who surrounded the dying couch of Melancthon. "Nothing but heaven," was the gentle response, and he went smiling on his way.Lessons

1. That in order to success in preaching, moral consistency of life must accompany and sustain the faithful declaration of the truth.

2. That the greatest success is achieved when the highest experience of the Christian life is constantly enforced by both precept and example.

(G. Barlow.)

The Evangelist told the story of a young minister in whom the true spirit of his calling was evidently present. He went from a Congregational seminary to a Missouri town. His church was the feeblest one in the place, and soon men said, "No Congregational element in this town." He created one. Through many discouragements he remained at his post, never once complaining or "craning" his neck for a richer church, a larger field, or a more conspicuous position. At last he began to get influence, and to use it aright. He had a call to a stronger church at £1,500 salary. He quietly refused. Then a call came from a great church east of the Alleghanies, with a larger offer of salary and moving expenses. None of these things stirred him. He never even told of it in his parish. The call was repeated. He said, "No, my work is here till God shuts the door." And a goodly inheritance was his.

The narrative in the Acts, if very strictly pressed, might lead us to suppose that the apostle had only spent at Thessalonica twenty-seven days at the utmost — perhaps only twenty-one or twenty-two (Acts 17:1, 2, 10); but it does not absolutely demand such narrow limits of time, and two circumstances seem to require its extension — the conversion of many idolaters (1 Thessalonians 1:9), and Paul's own expressed statement that he remained long enough in Thessalonica to receive assistance "once and again" from Philippi (Philippians 4:16). In any case, the spectacle of such an one as Paul so working, even for something less than a month, would be a memorable one — a thing to attract attention, and to be long remembered and discussed. This would especially be the case n the Church of Thessalonica. A shopkeeping and industrial community would instinctively know whether such an exhibition was a piece of charlatanism or a reality. Even if St. Paul's stay was cut short by a riot, they might be perfectly aware whether these few weeks were a fair representation of the frame and mould of his general life. It is certainly strange to think how far the idea which we instinctively form of the great apostle, as one utterly absorbed in theological thought or seraphic devotion, when not employed in preaching or missionary work, must be modified by such a passage as this. The language here used about "working night and day," would show that in Thessalonica, at least, one unbroken day in the week only could be undividedly given to directly apostolic labour. It is vain to conjecture how much time may have been at his disposal upon the other days of the week. It has been added to the list of St. Paul's difficulties that he thus worked manually "at an age when the bodily frame refuses to perform a new office." This is surely not so. Men of station and education among the Jews diligently learned trades. The same obligation has been imposed by custom upon persons even of royal birth in different nations and countries. Eginhard tells us that Charlemagne had his sons taught mechanic trades, and his daughters spinning and weaving. Each member of the Prussian royal family at the present time is apprenticed, and enters into a guild of tradesmen. St. Paul's motives in continuing to work were three —

I.INDEPENDENCE, the being able to take what has been ingenuously called "a lay position."

II.EXAMPLE. (2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9).

III.CHARITY, having something to give in alms (Acts 20:34).

(Bp. Alexander.)

Ye are my witnesses, and God also, how nobly, and justly, and unblameably we behaved
The apostle had previously made an appeal to his readers, and an appeal also to God; he now blends the two into one.


1. "Holily," a word which looks specially towards God. A common Biblical phrase is "holy to the Lord." The Divine command is "Be ye holy towards your God," and the announcement is made, "'The Lord will show who are His, and who is holy." The word is applied to —(1) God, the Father, Son, and Spirit, as infinitely holy above His creatures — "the Holy One," the source and end of all purity.(2) To angels.(3) To saints, as being sanctified, consecrated to a holy life, by the renewing of the Spirit of holiness. All believers in this sense live holily. With varying degrees of conformity to the will of God, they are all true men. Their devotion is sincere; their hearts turn towards God as the flower opens itself and turns toward the light of heaven.

2. "Justly" represents the side of the apostle's behaviour towards men. It means righteously, and defines the believer's conduct as upright in all its connections and dealings with others. He is just in God's sight, through the imputation of Christ's righteousness; and, standing in a new relation to God, he strives to live in obedience to God's law of love. We often use the word in a narrower sense, as when we say of a man that he is just but not generous. But that is an unwarrantable limitation. According to God's law, no man is just who is not generous, kind, forbearing, helpful. Love is a debt we owe to our neighbour, and we are not just if we neglect to pay it. "Owe no man anything, but to love one another."

3. "Unblameably" is a negative word, but on that account all the more comprehensive. As servants of Jesus Christ, they gave "no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed." In applying these three words to himself and his companions, Paul could speak not merely of a good heart and a good life, but also of a good name — "better than precious ointment." He who keeps his life free from sin does good to himself; he who keeps it clear of suspicion is merciful to others. The apostle is here a pattern to pastors and people; but we must ever rise from human examples to Divine. Christ is set before us as "the Holy One," "the Just One"; and as to blamelessness, He could say, "Which of you convinceth me of sin"; and the Roman governor could testify, "I find no fault in Him." It is when we stedfastly and lovingly look towards Him that we come at length to be "holy and without blame before Him in love." Note that this was the light that Paul and his associates appeared in the estimation of those that "believed." More than this could not be said, for by Jews and Gentiles their character and conduct were furiously assailed (Acts 17). Paul represents himself, therefore, as turning aside from the reproaches and enmity of the world to the judgment of his fellow believers. In their hands his reputation was safe.

II. APOSTOLIC METHODS (ver. 11). Already he had used the figure of a nursing mother in the tenderness of her self-sacrificing devotion to her children. He now shifts the figure, and is a father. Two points are to be noticed in the latter comparison —

1. As a wise father suits his training and teaching to the case of each child, so he acted towards his converts — "every one of you." It was the apostle's invariable procedure to deal with individuals. He "ceased not to warn every one of" the Ephesian elders. To the Colossian she says, "Warning every man," etc. Christianity has brought out into clearest light, and assigned the greatest prominence to, the worth of the individual soul. The rulers and teachers of heathen society thought of men as a body, and used or influenced them in the mass, but seldom thought of the individual. But the religion of Christ takes account of each. Its foundation rests on individual conviction. Individualism, not multitudinism, is the law of its growth, until it comes to leaven the whose mass of humanity.

2. As a father is intensely earnest in giving his children right guidance and instruction, so was Paul in his yearning care of his converts. As he had described his behaviour in threefold way, so he describes his ministry.(1) Exhortation is the more general term, and describes apostolic teaching as influencing the mind and will; in other words, instruction.(2) Comforting is friendly persuasion, touching the feelings, and so leading the heart to Christ and His truth — consoling and inspiriting those who, in the midst of tribulation, were doubting and desponding.(3) Charging or testifying is adjuring them with all solemnity, as in the sight of God.

III. APOSTOLIC AIM (ver. 12). The method was necessarily diverse: some needing exhortation, others comfort, others charging; but the end was one, because they all needed to walk worthy.

1. By "walking" we are to understand the whole character and conduct.(1) The figure implies energetic movement in the way of progress.(2) It is worthy walking only when the command has been heard and obeyed. "Walk before Me, and be thou perfect." "As ye have received the Lord Jesus, so walk in Him."(3) Such walking is "worthy of God," being "with God."

2. Calling means not merely God's invitation, but that invitation as accepted; hence effectual calling. His Church is called out of bondage and corruption into the light and liberty of the gospel. We must, then, walk worthy of the dignity of God's freed men. This calling is unto —(1) His kingdom. We are, then, to walk worthy of the duties of this kingdom, to exhibit —

(a)Faithful allegiance to its King.

(b)Joyful obedience to its laws.

(c)Affectionate interest in all its subjects.

(d)Valiant fighting in its service.

(e)Cooperation in all good work.(2) His glory — not simply to His glorious kingdom; but while God calls His people to dignities and duties, He is also calling them to future rewards. Their destiny is glory. This glory is "the prize of our high calling"; but even here we know something of it. It consists of —

(a)Likeness to Christ (1 John 3:2). Our glory will be "the beauty of holiness."

(b)Sharing Christ's sovereignty. "To him that overcometh," etc.Believers walk worthy of this destiny when they share it as fully as may be here, and when they lovingly look forward to its perfection hereafter.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)


1. Holily before God. He was made a new creature in Christ Jesus. Throughout life he exhibited the evidences of, and made continual advancement in, the graces of the new creation. Notice some of the characteristics of Paul's holiness, which are always in some degree in every holy character.

(1)Tenderness of conscience.

(2)Deep humility.

(3)Lively gratitude.


(5)Realization of the presence of God.

(6)Living upon the promises of God.

(7)Profitableness of conversation.

2. Justly before man —

(1)In thought.

(2)In word.

(3)In deed.

3. Unblameable in general deportment. Free from minor (so-called) imprudences; abstaining from all appearance of evil. Blamed indeed he was, as all who live holily will be, but only "as concerning the law of His God" like Daniel. With regard to everything that involved duty and faithfulness he was firm as an oak, but in everything relating to personal convenience and benefit yielding in any way he could for the glory of God and the good of man.


1. He "exhorted," setting forth the whole truth, not simply as a matter of theory but practically. There was no reserve in his doctrine, pandering to individual tastes or to the fashion of the day. Hence his preaching afforded tests —(1) To the unregenerate by means of which they might discover the absence of spiritual life and be led to repentance.(2) To the lukewarm, so that they should not be allowed to rest satisfied with mere profession.(3) To the believer, teaching him not to rest in present attainments, but to press forward.

2. He "comforted." His own heart was full of love to God and man, and rejoiced in the experience of Divine consolations, so that he was duly qualified to sympathize with others (2 Corinthians 1:8-5). Cold is the comfort which arises from the mere theoretical statement of points calculated to give comfort; but when that consolation flows from a heart that can say, "I have tried it myself and know its power," then God works by means of the minister

3. With holy authority and deep solemnity. Paul charged the Thessalonians —(1) With discrimination, in language that was not vague and general, but such as enabled him to apply the different parts of his message to the conscience of "everyone."(2) With tender affection as a father.

III. THE OBJECT HE HAD IN VIEW — "That ye would walk," etc. The arguments by which he enforced this charge were three-fold.

1. God had called them not only generally but effectually, and as He who had called them was holy so He urged them to be holy.

2. God had given them a place in His kingdom. That kingdom was one of —(1) Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; its members there fore must glorify the King by "righteousness and true holiness," and by "joy and peace through believing."(2) Liberty: its subjects are delivered from the thraldom of sin and Satan, and must live in loyalty to the royal law of liberty.(3) Light: its citizens must, therefore, walk as "children of the light."

3. God had prepared for them a state of glory. The heirs of that glory, therefore, must live —

(1)In expectation of it.

(2)In preparation for it.

(J. Hill, B. D.)

This does not sound like Christian modesty, but Paul frequently talked like this; yet he was one of the humblest of men, "less than the least of all saints." The fact is, that Paul felt it incumbent upon him to bear witness for Christ by his life as well as his lips, and there were circumstances which constrained him to vindicate the excellence of his life as well as the truth of his doctrine.


1. Men's principles have ever been tried by their practices. If we find Mohammedans or Mormons living good lives we feel sure that there must be some truth in what they believed. In this way men judge in relation to the gospel. When the life of a believer is bad it is taken as an evidence against the truth of the gospel; when good it is taken as a proof of its truth. And no wonder; for it is easier to judge of a doctrine in a man's life than in abstract forms. And then the gospel comes not as a speculation that the intellect may be gratified, but that man's heart and life my be transformed, and professes that it can be brought to the test of experiment. It follows, then, that when the lives of Christians are bad they are the worst enemies of the gospel; when good its best friends.

2. Examples open on all bands.(1) What an argument for the truth of Christ's doctrine was Christ's own life! How often has it silenced those who assailed His teaching. That perfection could hardly have come from falsehood or delusion. How often has that same life strengthened the faith of the doubting. We have been oppressed by the mysteries of His doctrine, but when we have looked at His life we have felt that He must have uttered what was true, that He can be trusted, and may be followed in spite of difficulties.(2) The same thing appears in the examples of the early Christians. The apostles and the great master were anxious that the lives of converts should be in harmony with their belief, because the world was to believe the Christian doctrine because of what they saw of the Christian life. And that life in its purity, love, resignation, heroism struck both Jew and heathen. Nothing was harder to be answered than that, and it is that which contributed more than anything else to the triumphs of the Church.(3) The same thing is illustrated by the power of the biographies of good men. Have we not felt in reading them that there is no religion that could have produced such characters but that of Christ, and that the religion that could produce them must be of God. Nothing better can be placed in the hands of a sceptic than the record of a Christian life which has been in accord with Christian profession.(4) The same is illustrated by living examples. The life of many a father and mother has been a greater inspiration than all their instruction. So with friends, business acquaintances, etc.

II. The power of a Christian life AS IT SERVES TO ENFORCE A CHRISTIAN SPEECH. There are some in every Christian man's sphere to whom he ought to speak on the subject of Christian faith and practice. To do this effectually it is necessary that there should be wisdom in the choice of time, circumstances, manner, subject, etc., but more than all a life in harmony with what is spoken. The want of this is the real reason why professing Christians speak so little to others on these subjects. There are other reasons it is true — a humble estimate of self, delicacy and reserve, but the true reason is because they feel that they would be acting in a way that would bring condemnation on themselves. How can a man speak against bad tempers, if his children and servants see him indulging them? or speak about the Bible if he neglects it? Or about extravagance if he is expensive? Or about the value of the soul, if he cares little about his own? He cannot speak, because he is ashamed, and because he feels that it would be little use. But let the life speak as well as the words, and then the words will be effectual as witnessing to the sincerity and earnestness of the speaker. It is better not to talk at all about religion, if we do not live it; and if we live it religion will often speak when we are silent.

III. The power of a Christian's life IN BLESSING HIS DEATH.

1. Inasmuch as because of the death, the power of the life is more forcibly brought before the mind. Often we do not know the value of our blessings until we lose them. When we do appreciate the worth of a Christian friend while living it is not as we do when he is dead. We were sufficiently alive to his imperfections, but now he is gone we think only of his excellence, and yield to the influence of that.

2. In its influence in drawing the Christian's affections upward. When our friends are with us shining in their consistent life this world satisfies us more than when they are gone. Their life is a force of attraction to this earth where they are: but their death attracts us to the heaven whither they have gone. If they had not lived Christian lives we should be thinking of them as somewhere we know not where, but recalling their lives as being Christian we are compelled to look upward for them in glory.Conclusion: Seeing that the power of a Christian life is thus great, it becomes us —

1. To inquire very earnestly whether we have experienced it and yielded to it. We have all known some true Christians, and also some false professors. In regard to the latter many like well enough to see and condemn them, but with satisfaction as furnishing an excuse for irreligion. It is poor work to use Christian inconsistency for that end. If all Christians were inconsistent there might be something in it. But there are some who do lead Christian lives, and when near them we feel their power. What use are you making of them? Are you accepting their Saviour and imitating their example? And now if they are gone are you following them to heaven? You have to answer for the gift of every Christian man made unto you and not only for sermons, etc.

2. To inquire whether we are putting forth the power of a Christian life. Are we commending Christ's doctrine by our lives? When we are gone will men be remembering us to their advantage?

3. A Christian life is such a life that Christ requires and that Christ lived, and that Christ enables those who really follow Him to live. Without Him we cannot live it (Galatians 2:20).

(D. Thomas, B. A., of Bristol.)

The son and biographer of Caesar Malan, after describing the openness and impulsiveness of his father's nature, and the close intimacy in which he had always lived with him, remarks: "I never saw anything in him which did not renew the impression that he lived as seeing Him who is invisible. Never was I witness of a gesture, never did I hear a word, with respect to which I had to feel that it would become to him the subject of serious regret."

How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp! Every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God's sword, His instrument, I trust, a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfectness of the instrument will be success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus.

(R. McCheyne.)

About the mere presence and person of good men there hangs a charm and a spell of good which makes them do good even when they are not consciously thinking of doing good at all. Their very presence does good as if there were an angel there, and from their mere silence there spreads an influence, a flowing in of higher motives and purer thoughts into the souls of men. It was said of the ancient Cato that when he entered, the young Roman nobles blushed for their base amusements. It is said of one of old that even as a boy all bad words were hushed at once when he joined a crowd of his companions.

(F. W. Farrar.)

It was said of McCheyne, of Scotland, that people felt him when he entered a meeting or private home. Although not a stern, sanctimonious man, but a very cheerful one, yet people recognized him as a man of God who carried the atmosphere of heaven with him, and lived out the gospel of Christ. The inward spirit shone out from him, in his language, and conduct, just as a blazing lamp .always reports itself.

"Citizens," exclaimed Lamartine to a Parisian populace during the revolution of 1848, as he introduced an honest man to them — "Citizens! listen! for a sixty years of pure life is about to address you." The mob stood silent. And so the unconverted world will listen to a godly life in which the Divine Spirit dwells, when such a life comes in close contact with them.

It has often been charged upon Christianity that it is a narrow and belittling system, and that there is no scope in it for the highest development, and for the finest and most commanding type of character. If this be so it can only be because there is no fit conception of God, a thing which might have been affirmed with propriety at the foot of Olympus, but which it calls for a good deal of rashness to avow at the foot of that mountain on which the preacher said, "Be ye perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." And here Paul adjures men to acquit themselves in a way to reflect and magnify the excellencies of Him in whom all excellencies meet and harmonize. There are two general thoughts involved in the idea of walking worthy of God.


1. There are those who tell us that our creation in the Divine likeness is a myth; that mind is only a function of matter; that what we are pleased to call the soul is only the outcome of physical organs in a certain state of adjustment and action; and that we have simply struggled up through lower forms and survive because the fittest. There may be some truth in evolution. Subsequent to the great creative acts, and within the sweep of laws and orders established by God, something like the principle of evolution does come into play. But there is nothing in this to disturb our faith in a distinguishing creation of man in the image of the Maker. God's stamp is on the human heart and brain. Man is separated in his moral nature and boundless aspirations from all other orders because he has something of God in him. In virtue of this he is an evidence of God. His soul is a mirror which reflects God. Through this likeness our relation to Him is that of a child to a Father.

2. True this image is marred, but it is still on the soul. To be a man, no matter how low down or far away, is to have some trace of ancestry in God. It is the work of Christ to restore this image and bring men back to a filial acknowledgment of the Father. In every one who has accepted Him and is sincerely trying to do His will, this image is emerging into more and more of prominence, and by and by it will be complete.

3. To walk worthy of God this dignifying fact must be kept to the forefront. Princes are taught that they are sons of kings and must, therefore, conduct themselves in royal fashion. By every man it should be kept in perpetual remembrance that he is a child of the King of kings. What an uplifting power! What a help in the struggle to do the right! What a shield against evil assaults! Is there anything which gives us a larger notion of manliness, or supplies us with higher motive forces?


1. This is the central argument here. Men are to walk worthy because of the call into God's kingdom and glory. They have come into a new estate, and are expected not only to show gratitude for it, but to feel its inspiration and advance into a grander mood of life. It is a thing of immense import that a man should be taken out of the kingdom of sin and set down securely in the kingdom of God. Pardon is a great thing, conversion is greater, but heirship to all the wealth of the heavenly inheritance is greater still.

2. Being called by God "into His own kingdom and glory" means much more than a standing in the Church, and a hope of admission into heaven. It means a fellowship with God in His blessedness now and forever. At present it is incomplete, but real. We see through a glass darkly; we know only in part; but we do see and know, and these experiences are prophetic of a seeing and knowing that shall one day be perfect.

3. No man can take this in without feeling that his walk ought to be very close with God and wholly in the line of His will. We are told that we are heirs of all the ages, that poets have sung, philosophers taught, legislators ruled, and martyrs suffered, etc., and that to us has fallen the precious fruitage of all this sacrifice and toil. But they who, through faith in Christ, have a standing in the kingdom and glory of God are heirs to something more than all this. Surely the thought that he is heir to the measureless riches of Divine favour is to put heart into a man and to stir him to the utmost stretch of endeavour. Within the sweep of these general thoughts there are some specific requirements.(1) The spirit and habit of loyalty to God. He is to be the first and final reference of all our actions. His will must be the rule and test of living. This loyalty was illustrated by Peter and John. "Whether it be right in the sight of God," etc. Front to front with prison doors they would be true to Him. Daniel is another example. Fidelity might cost him his life, but he would not swerve from it. So in the case of the heroes in Hebrews 11. The trouble with us is that God has not this regnant place in our lives. Secular codes are permitted to regulate our actions — political, social, professional, domestic — and which are allowed to determine what is right and wrong.(2) A very high degree of purity. The most careless reader must notice the stress laid upon this in the Bible; but we lay too little on it, and too much on sensationalism and aestheticism. Yet a higher measure of purity is one of the most pressing demands of our time. How iniquity still abounds.(3) A walk full of love — to God and man, for love is Godlike.

(F. A. Noble, D. D.)


1. Himself — to take Him by the spirit, the heart, and the knowledge which is love.

2. Ourselves — we are lost if we lose God.

3. Our brethren. If we possess God we must possess as our brethren all who are His children.

4. All things "All are ours for we are Christ's."


1. The ground of this call — His own character.

2. The methods.

(1)The Gospel.


(3)The Sacraments.

III. OUR DUTY WITH REFERENCE TO THIS CALL — to walk worthy of God, by contemplating the life and following the example of the only man who walked worthy of God — Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us.

(N. Macleod, D. D.)

It was the custom among the old Greeks that every Athenian youth, as soon as he could carry weapons, should take this oath — "I will not disgrace the sacred arms entrusted to me by my country, and I will not desert the place committed to me to defend."

(W. Buxton.)

1. Letters disclose the character of the writer. No two persons write exactly alike because no two persons have precisely the same character. In many cases we should know the writer even if the handwriting were concealed. There is a difference of tone and thought which either helps to form, or corresponds with our idea of the character of the writer. Some letters soothe, others irritate; some elevate us, others draw us down.

2. Letters disclose the character of the receivers. We write differently to different persons, and in the very act of revealing our own we indicate not obscurely our conception of another's character.

3. These remarks are appropriate to this epistle. Paul is writing to a Church about which he is particularly anxious and hopeful. He gives us a graphic picture of himself and of his mode of dealing with his congregations. It is a beautiful portrait of a Christian pastor. And how much does the letter tell us of the persons addressed. We seem to learn from the Acts that St. Paul had been but a short time at Thessalonica, and yet he is able to record "a work of faith," etc., and to speak to them throughout not only as persons interested in the gospel, but exemplifying its rules of life and acquainted with its deepest doctrines. We are taught —(1) That there is nothing to prevent any one from becoming, within a very short time, a Christian indeed. It only needs that we should receive Christ's message with prayer and watchfulness and try to act upon it. Then, the fruits of the spirit will speedily show themselves. God's work is not tied by rules of time and system.(2) The precariousness of Christian life. The more rapidly it grows the greater are its dangers; but whether it grows quickly or slowly, we have a watchful enemy, and if he succeeds in driving us back from our life of faith and labour of love, the labour bestowed upon us will have been in vain. Let us consider this worthy walk.

I. IN GENERAL. The words are like, yet in one point different from, several other expressions elsewhere. The worthy walk in Ephesians is of the calling; in Philippians, of the Gospel; in Colossians, of the Lord; here, of God.

1. This, in all ages, must be the aim of all Christian teaching. Sometimes it may be done by giving details of duty; sometimes by laying down principles; sometimes, best of all, by touching the spring of motive, and dwelling upon that love of God which alone can make us love Him. But the object is ever the same.

2. "Walk" is a lively figure, and suggests —(1) That our life is a state of motion. There is no resting here.(2) It is motion within limits. The motion of today does not carry us out of the region of yesterday, and tomorrow will find us moving up and down the same area as today. And thus, as in our point of view, life is a journey; a journey of successive stages, no one of which is taken twice over; so, in another aspect, it is rather a walk, in which we start from our own door and return to it, traverse time after time the same space, and are still the same persons in the same region and home.(3) That region and home is not local, but personal. We may change our abode, but we carry our sameness with us wherever we go — the same habits, infirmities, affections, tastes and interests. We are the same, and so is the reality of life; its accidents vary, but the deep inner life changes not.

3. But though life be a walk rather than a journey, inasmuch as it traverses over and over the same ground, there is all the difference in the world in our mode of exercising it. We may live at random with no rule or guidance; we may live on a principle not the right one; we may live according to the direction or example of others which may lead us quite astray. Paul's is a very short rule — "Walk worthy of God." My conduct, then, in the little affairs of my daily life, so insignificant as they may appear, are in some way capable of high and glorious uses; capable of bringing honour upon, or detracting from the honour of God. We may help others to forget or to remember God. If we live in one way we show that we think God of importance; if we live in another, we show that we think He may be disregarded and no harm come of it.

II. IN PARTICULAR. There are some ways in which we could not, if we would, walk worthily of God. We could never so live as to remind men of the creative power, eternal existence, absolute sovereignty of God: but in the following ways we may, and can, walk worthily of Him.

1. By the cultivation of reverence. No one walks worthily of God who takes His name on his lips lightly, or refers in a trifling spirit to the solemn realities of His word or judgment. These are the ways in which wicked or thoughtless persons put God out of sight amongst their companions. Let, then, those about you be aware that though you may be merry and amusing about other things, you are always grave and reverent when God is concerned, and that you are shocked at the slightest allusion to Him in any but a serious spirit.

2. The cultivation of thankfulness. The thankful spirit is that of one who gives God the glory for all he has, and looks not at what He withholds.

3. The cultivation of holiness. "As He which hath called you is holy," etc. He whose conversation is impure, whose heart cherishes impure thoughts, is doing the greatest dishonour to the God of holiness. On the other hand no one witnesses for God as one who is noticed for his perfect purity of speech and conduct.

4. The cultivation of kindness. When our Lord said, "Be ye perfect as your Father," etc., He said it, with regard to kindness. This is what tells while a man lives, and is remembered when he is gone.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Here we have the whole law of Christian conduct in a nutshell. There may be many detailed commandments, but they can all be deduced from this one. We are lifted up above the region of petty prescriptions, and breathe a bracing mountain air. Instead of regulations, very many and very dry, we have a principle which needs thought and sympathy, in order to apply, it, and is to be, carried out by the free action of our own judgments. We are told in our text to "walk worthy of God." Then again, we are enjoined, in other places, to "walk worthy of the Lord," who is Christ. Or again, "of the Gospel of Christ." Or again, "of the calling wherewith we were called." Or again, of the name of "saints." And if you put all these together, you will get many sides of one thought, the rule of Christian life as gathered into a single expression — correspondence with, and conformity to, a certain standard.

I. We have this passage of my text, and the other one to which I have referred, "Walking worthy of the Lord," by whom we are to understand Christ. We may put these together and say that THE WHOLE SUM OF CHRISTIAN DUTY LIES IN CONFORMITY TO THE CHARACTER OF A DIVINE PERSON WITH WHOM WE HAVE LOVING RELATIONS. The Old Testament says, "Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." The New Testament says, "Be ye imitators of God, and walk in love." So then, whatever in that Divine nature of flashing brightness and infinite profundity is far beyond our apprehension and grasp, there are in that Divine nature elements — and those the best and divinest in it — which it is perfectly within the power of every man to copy.

II. The next form of this all-embracing precept. The whole law of our Christian life may be gathered up in another correspondence, "Walk worthy of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27), IN A MANNER CONFORMED TO THAT GREAT MESSAGE OF GOD'S LOVE TO US. That covers substantially the same ground as we have already been going over, but it presents the same ideas in a different light. It presents the gospel as a rule of conduct. The Cross is your pattern, as well as the anchor of your hope and the ground of your salvation, if it is anything at all to you. And it is not the ground of your salvation and the anchor of your hope unless it is your pattern. It is the one in exactly the same degree in which it is the other. So all self-pleasing, all harsh insistence on your own claims, all neglect of suffering and sorrow and sin around you, comes under the lash of this condemnation. They are not "worthy of the gospel." And all unforgivingness of spirit and of temper in individuals and in nations, in public and in private matters, that, too, is in flagrant contradiction of the principles that are taught on the Cross to which you say you look for your salvation.

III. Then again, there is another form of this same general prescription which suggests to us a kindred and yet somewhat different standard. We are also bidden to bring our lives into conformity to, and correspondence with, or, as the Bible has it, "TO WALK WORTHY OF THE CALLING WHEREWITH WE ARE CALLED" (Ephesians 4:1). God summons or invites us, and summons us to what? The words which follow our text answer, "Who hath called us unto His kingdom and glory." Men that are called to high functions prepare themselves therefor, If you knew that you were going away to Australia in six months, would you not be beginning to get your outfit ready? You Christian men profess to believe that you have been called to a condition in which you will absolutely obey God's will, and be the loyal subjects of His kingdom, and in which you will partake of God's glory. Well, then, obey His will here, and let some scattered sparklets of that uncreated light that is one day going to flood your soul lie upon your face today. Do not go and cut your lives into two halves, one of them all contradictory to that which you expect in the other, but bring a harmony between the present, in all its weakness and sinfulness, and that great hope and certain destiny that blazes on the horizon of your hope, as the joyful state to which you have been invited. "Walk worthy of the calling to which you are called." And again, that same thought of the destiny should feed our hope, and make us live under its continual inspiration. A walk worthy of such a calling and such a Caller should know no despondency, nor any weary, heartless lingering, as with tired feet on a hard road. Brave good cheer, undimmed energy, a noble contempt of obstacles, a confidence in our final attainment of that purity and glory which is not depressed by consciousness of present failure — these are plainly the characteristics which ought to mark the advance of the men in whose ears such a summons from such lips rings as their marching orders. And a walk worthy of our calling will turn away from earthly things. If you believe that God has summoned you to His kingdom and glory, surely, surely, that should deaden in your heart the love and the care for the trifles that lie by the wayside.

IV. And the last of the phases of this prescription which I have to deal with is this. The whole Christian duty is further crystallized into the one command, TO WALK IN A MANNER CONFORMED TO, AND CORRESPONDING WITH, THE CHARACTER WHICH IS IMPRESSED UPON US. In Romans 16:2, we read about a very small matter, that it is to be done "worthily of the saints." It is only about the receiving of a good woman that was travelling from Corinth to Rome, and extending hospitality to her in such a manner as became professing Christians; but the very minuteness of the details to which the great principle is applied points a lesson. The biggest principle is not too big to be brought down to the narrowest details, and that is the beauty of principles as distinguished from regulations. Like the fabled tent in the old legend that could contract so as to have room for but one man, or extend wide enough to hold an army; so this great principle of Christian conduct can be brought down to giving "Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the Church at Cenchrea," good food and a comfortable lodging, and any other little kindnesses, when she comes to Rome. And the same principle may be widened out to embrace and direct us in the largest tasks and most difficult circumstances. "Worthily of saints" — the name is an omen, and carries in it rules of conduct. The root ides of "saint" is "one separated to God," and the secondary idea which flows from that is "one who is pure." All Christians are "saints." They are consecrated and set apart for God's service, and in the degree in which they are conscious of and live out that consecration, they are pure. So their name, or rather the great fact which their name implies, should be ever before them, a stimulus and a law. Walk "worthily of saints" is another way of saying, Be true to your own best selves. Work up to the highest ideal of your character. That is far more wholesome than to be always looking at our faults and failures, which depress and tempt us to think that the actual is the measure of the possible, and the past or present of the future. There is no fear of self-conceit or of a mistaken estimate of ourselves. The more clearly we keep our best and deepest self before our consciousness, the more shall we learn a rigid judgment of the miserable contradictions to it in our daily outward life, and even in our thoughts and desires. It is a wholesome exhortation, when it follows these others of which we have been speaking (and not else), which bids Christians remember that they are saints and live up to their name.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. BY CHEERFULNESS. Nothing is more Christlike and winsome. Every flower, even, tries to make itself as pleasant as possible. Let us copy the flowers. Our cheerfulness honours God, and shows that He is a good Master, and make him a blessing to his neighbours. When your lose comes do not dishonour God by fretting. Do not draw your joy from the world's broken cisterns, but from the inexhaustible fountain of happiness.

II. BY NOT BEING AFRAID OF THE TRUTH. Many would be willing to follow the truth if it were fashionable; but if we would walk worthy of God we shall follow it not only at the risk of popularity but of life. Let the example of Christ and the martyrs and reformers nerve you to uphold and proclaim the truth. Show by your life that you dare rest your life on the word of Christ. This needs a new heart and a right spirit.

III. BY EARNESTNESS IN ALL WE DO. Our Divine trusts will not bear trifling with, and there is but a short time in which to discharge them. How energetic all have been who have walked worthy of God — Christ, the Apostles, etc. We work hard for our worldly employers, shall we work less for our heavenly?

IV. BY GENUINE DISCIPLESHIP. Our practice should, like a good sovereign, ring properly when it is sounded. God is foully dishonoured when we are inconsistent. Be Christlike —

1. In word: truthful, clean, sympathetic.

2. In deed: pure, kind, helpful.

(W. Birch.)


1. It is therefore opposed to works (Romans 9:11; 2 Timothy 1:9).

2. This invitation may be regarded two ways: barely by the word, or as implying our consent. When a man is called to an office in Church or State, he is said to be called though he declines; but when election and acceptation meet together, then there is a call. This distinction is necessary in Divine things (Matthew 22:14; Romans 8:30). In a strict sense men are called only when they accept God's invitation.

3. This calling implies that men are afar off. We call men that are afar, we speak to those who are near (Acts 2:14, 39).


1. There is a fourfold worthiness.

(1)In regard of merit: so only Christ is worthy (Revelation 5:9).

(2)In regard of acceptation: so the saints are worthy (Revelation 3:4).

(3)In regard of proportion (2 Corinthians 4:17).

(4)In regard of meekness (Matthew 3:8). This is the sense here.

2. We should walk worthy of God because —(1) Dignity calls for duty. What higher dignity than to be called to God's kingdom and glory?(2) The more dismal a man's condition is the more is he obliged to walk answerably to God who hath called him out of that condition (Ephesians 5:14).(3) The more comfortable and glorious the condition a man is called unto, the more he is engaged to God who has called him to that condition. What is good or desirable but we are called to it in being called to God's kingdom and glory? Is light desirable? We are "called out of darkness into His marvellous light." Holiness? (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Peace? (1 Corinthians 7:5). Communion with Christ? (1 Corinthians 1:9).


1. God ordinarily calls men by the preaching of the Word; but also by direct impressions made by the Holy Spirit on the heart, and by afflictions, etc.

2. A man may know that he is called when he is —

(1)constrained by the love of Christ.

(2)Begotten by the word of promise (Romans 9:7, 8).

(3)Separated from the world (1 Peter 2:9).

(4)Apt and willing to be ruled by the Word in all things (Acts 9:6; Acts 10:29).

(5)When he can say, "all things work together for my good" (Romans 8:28).

(6)When he celebrates God's praises (1 Peter 2:9).


1. Observe the excellencies of God and let them shine forth.

(1)God is a great God; do something great for Him.

(2)He is a sovereign Lord, and absolutely free; do what He commands with a free spirit.

(3)He is infinitely holy: "Be ye holy" (1 Peter 1:15, 16).

(4)He is God all sufficient (Genesis 17.); trust Him fully.

(5)He is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24; 1 Corinthians 1:9); believe all His promises.

(6)He is our chief good and last end; in all your affairs begin with Him, rest in Him, desire after Him.

2. Observe what the great design of God is, and labour all you can to advance the same.

(1)"Your sanctification."

(2)The world's salvation.

(3)The glorifying of Christ (John 14:13).

3. Israel sacrificed to God the gods of other nations, and herein they honoured God; and so shall we if we surrender our idols to Him.

4. Take heed of sinning in secret, and be much in private duty because God sees you. Walking in the eye of an all-seeing God is most worthy walking.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

I. THE PRINCIPLES OF MAGNANIMITY IN GENERAL AS A NATURAL QUALITY. As there is a difference between bodies as to size, so there is a real character of greatness or meanness applicable to the mind. It belongs to magnanimity —

1. To attempt great and difficult things. Those who from love of ease neglect the improvement of their powers, or who apply them, however assiduously, to things of small consequence, are destitute of this quality, as are those also who fall below their rank in life.

2. To aspire after great and valuable possessions. A great mind has great capacities of enjoyment, and will not be satisfied with trifles.

3. To encounter danger with resolution. No weakness is more contemptible than cowardice.

4. To struggle against difficulties with steadiness and perseverance. Few things are more contrary to magnanimity than fickleness. We commonly identify weakness and changeableness.

5. To bear sufferings with fortitude and patience. This virtue has always had the greatest reputation.


1. The object of our desires must be just as well as great. Some of the noblest powers of the human mind have been exerted in invading the rights, instead of promoting the benefit of mankind. Some of the ablest men have borne the most detestable of characters.

2. Our desires must be governed by wisdom and prudence, as well as justice. Exertion in feats, which have little value except their difficulties or rareness, is no more the operation of magnanimity than rope dancing is the work of a hero. To spend a whole life in the accumulation of a vast fortune is of small merit.

3. The principle of action must be honourable, as well as the achievement illustrious. If a man does extraordinary things merely to make his name famous, it is mean; but the sacrifice of name and riches to duty and usefulness is glorious.

4. Every attempt must be possible and rational; otherwise it is only extravagant, not great.


1. Religion calls us to the greatest and most noble attempts.(1) In a private view it bids us subdue every sinful passion, and to nurture every excellence.(2) In a public view, every good man is called to live for the glory of God and the good of others. What sphere of activity wider or nobler than this?

2. The truly pious man aspires after the greatest and most valuable possessions. He despises the unsatisfying enjoyments of time, and reaches out after God and heaven.

3. True piety encounters the greatest dangers with resolution. The fear of God is the only effectual antidote to the fear of man.

4. The Christian perseveres in opposition to continued trial. This is what distinguishes Christian warfare from every other. It lasts through life.

5. He endures suffering with patience and fortitude. Witness the martyrs.

IV. PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT. Learn from what has been said —

1. That whenever honour differs from conscience, it is a treacherous guide.

2. That as Christian magnanimity is more excellent than that of the world, it is also more practicable and universal. It is open to all.

(J. Witherspoon, D. D.)

Says Manton on this text: "Live as kings, commanding your spirits, judging your souls to be above ordinary pursuits. It is not for eagles to catch flies. As of old it was said, 'Cogita te Caesarem esse — 'Remember that thou art Caesar' — so say we to each believer, 'Remember that thou shalt one day be a king with God in glory, and therefore walk becomingly.'" This is important teaching, and much needed in these days. Many who declare themselves to be eagles spend the most of their lives in hawking for flies; we even hear of professing Christians frequenting the theatre. Instead of acting like kings, many who claim to be the sons of God act as meanly as if they were scullions in the kitchen of Mammon. They do not judge themselves to be Caesars, but they demean themselves as if they were Caesar's slaves, living upon his smile, and asking his leave to move. What separation from the world, what brave holiness, what self-denial, what heavenly walking with God ought to be seen in those who are chosen to be a peculiar people, the representatives of God on earth, and courtiers of the new Jerusalem above! As the world waxes worse and worse, it becomes men of God to become better and better. If sinners stoop lower, saints must rise higher, and show them that a regenerate life cannot share in the general corruption. O Lord, I know that in Christ Jesus thou hast made me a king, help me, then, to live a right royal life. Lay home to my conscience that question, What manner of persons ought we to be? and may I so answer it that I may live worthy of my high calling.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The good St. once stepped down into the cloisters of his monastery, and laying his hand on the shoulder of a young monk, said, "Brother, let us go down into the town and preach." So they went forth, the venerable father and the young man. And they walked along upon their way, conversing as they went. They wound their way down the principal streets, round the lowly alleys and lanes, and even to the outskirts of the town, and to the village beyond, till they found themselves back at the monastery again. Then said the young monk, "Father, when shall we begin to preach?" And the father looked kindly down upon his son, and said, "My child, we have been preaching; we were preaching while we were walking. We have been seen, looked at; our behaviour has been remarked; and so we have delivered a morning sermon. Ah! my son, it is of no use that we walk anywhere to preach unless we preach as we walk."

(Paxton Hood.)

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