Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(Proverbs 23:17 in connection with text): — Now, while Solomon lays down the broad general principles concerning the prime importance of one's theory of things, Paul, in this passage, gives a clear and terse expression to the Christian theory of human life, and urges its acceptance with the most intense earnestness — "Have this mind," etc. Christ Himself stands out as the embodiment of the Christian theory. I propose to show that this theory is unique and contrary to the popular view of this age in —
I. ITS METHOD OF ESTIMATING THE VALUE OF MAN IN THIS WOULD.
1. It estimates him not by what is on him or around him or in his possession, but by what is in him. Be such in soul as Christ was.
2. I seriously question whether Christ, where He to appear as of old among men, would find many who would be willing to acknowledge themselves to be of His class in society. Would He have the shadow of a title to respectability in what the world is pleased to call the "best society."
3. It is hard to gain any adequate conception of how belittling and degrading such modern views are. But whether we are aware of it or not, society is suffering the disastrous consequences of this lowering of the estimate of character. We are coveting the same things that made wreck of the old nations, and forgetting the thing that has distinguished the Christian from them. The only possible remedy is to be found in making Christ's view our own, and shaping social life and intercourse according to that. "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
II. The Christian theory of life is unique, and contrary to the popular theory of this age IN THE SUPREME END THAT IT PROPOSES FOR HUMAN CONDUCT. That end is absolute righteousness in conformity to the will of God. There is no escaping the fact that Christ exalted righteousness as the governing principle of the universe. Now there are two radically variant views concerning the supreme end of human conduct — that which finds it in God, and that which finds it in man. The latter is the outcome of our depraved nature. It may be traced along the line of heathen and materialistic thought from Epicurus to Herbert Spencer and Paul Janet. In its grosser form it makes the quest for happiness the supreme thing for man. Its positive rule is, "Enjoy yourself;" its negative, "Don't get hurt." You cannot make men of breadth and stature on that basis. The view dwarfs and deadens humanity. The antagonistic view of Christianity finds the supreme end of human conduct and activity in connection with God. Virtue is righteousness, conformity to the law of the moral Governor. And yet, is it not true that, as we throw away Christ's standard of manhood — character — we also cast aside His theory of the supreme rule of human conduct? Nay, does not the fact that we have repudiated that rule account for our present view of character? Does net the average man oftener ask the question, Will this make me comfortable? Will this secure my happiness? or, Will this increase my fortune? or, Will this enlarge my knowledge or culture? than the question, Is this right? It is this selfish, so called morality that has brought the degradation of character, the general corruption.
III. The Christian theory is unique and contrary to the popular theory IN THE LAW WHICH IT PROPOSES FOR THE ATTAINMENT OF THE HIGHEST SUCCESS IN HUMAN LIFE — the law of self-sacrifice. Man is born into the world the most helpless of animals, and, what is more, the most selfish of all animals. The problem of human life, for the parent, human and divine, is how to develop the generous manhood and womanhood out of this intensest of all animalism. Just here it is that man is most fearfully made. He can only gain by renouncing. He seeks for himself and his own selfish aims only, at the peril of ,missing all. The law of the gospel is, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," etc. Seek other things first, and you lose them all. "He that loseth his life shall find it," etc. If the wretched and unsuccessful man will look into his heart he will find that he is breaking this great law of life, and is suffering for his breach of it. He is making too much of self, possessions, success, and is thereby forfeiting the very things he desires most. The human disappointment and unrest will continue with the resultant envy and strife until Christ's law of self-sacrifice is accepted. With the mind that was in Christ Jesus, we shall find the true solution of the dark problem that has led so many into pessimism.
IV. The Christian theory is unique in THE KIND OF LIFE THAT IT PROPOSES TO MAN FOR THE SATISFACTION OF HIS ACTIVE NATURE: a life devoted to the glory of God in redemption. This was the supreme thing in the life of Christ. For this He obeyed, suffered, and died. On the ground of this God has highly exalted Him. And so in the gospel view, the work for which man is in the world. We have had our popular theories of moral reform without Christ; but if anything has been demonstrated by human history, the only universal and effective method of such reform is that which starts out from Christ and His gospel. When, and only when, you make the drunkard a real Christian, you make sure that he will be a temperate man. We have had our popular theories of education without Christ, but nothing now seems more certain than that they practically end in corruption and crime. We devote our powers with tremendous energy to the production and acquisition of wealth and the advancement of material civilization, with the inevitable result of overproduction and periodical depression, in which much of the fancied gain disappears. If one half the energy were expended in the higher line of gospel effort we might have steady increase of solid wealth with permanent prosperity, and all this in a world of constantly increasing purity and peace. Living on such principles our souls might grow as rapidly as our fortunes, instead of being blighted and dwarfed by covetousness.
(Pres. D. S. Gregory.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: