Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,…
I. WHAT THIS ADVICE IMPLIES. To "be ready" is to be prepared, by laying a proper foundation in ourselves for doing good works. And this must be by the attainment of Divine knowledge and grace.
1. Knowledge is first necessary. Ignorance unfits and hinders many from doing good works. They know not the nature of good works, their necessity, that without them "faith is dead," their utility, amiable character, the will of God on this subject, nor how they may perform their duty in this respect.
2. By the attainment of grace (2 Corinthians 9:8), pardoning grace; a consciousness of guilt burdening and discouraging the mind, and hindering good works; renewing grace; only a good tree bringeth forth good fruit; strengthening grace; enabling us to break, or shake off, the fetters of sin, which incapacitate us to do the will of God.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING THUS READY. The glory of God is herein greatly concerned (Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; Philippians 1:11). God is glorified by our holy tempers and heavenly affections, but especially by our substantial, good, and useful works. Great credit and honour is thus brought to the gospel. "These things are profitable to men," by lessening their miseries, or preventing or enabling them to obtain happiness. Our own good is involved herein. It is an evidence of our sincerity, and of the genuineness of our religion, to ourselves and others; an evidence of our repentance, faith, hope, love, our justification, regeneration, and growth in grace. Our own peace of mind, as well as our religious character, is involved in this point. It is the means of exercising our grace and gifts, and thereby retaining them (Matthew 13:12; John 15:2).
III. THE MEANS TO BE USED IN ORDER THAT THIS ADVICE MAY BE COMPLIED WITH. The Word of God is the chief means of knowledge and of grace, whereby we may have the preparation, inclination, and ability mentioned above for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). This must be heard, read, searched, and diligently studied. It must also be received in faith and love, be obeyed in an humble and submissive spirit, through the influence and succour of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 9:8). This Spirit must be sought in sincere, fervent, and importunate prayer, without which we shall not possess either the right disposition, or sufficient ability to do good works. Christian fellowship is a further means. We must "exhort one another" daily (Hebrews 10:25), and take example from such as appear, or have appeared, eminent in usefulness.
Parallel VersesKJV: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,