If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,…
1. The "therefore" connects the passage with the "conversation worthy of the gospel."
2. The central precept is in verse 2 — "That ye be like minded," which suggests the subject of the whole.
I. THE CONSTITUENT ELEMENT OF CHRISTIAN CONCORD.
1. Mutual and all-pervading love — "Having the same love." All true Christians have this in some measure. Among the members of a congregation it should be peculiarly strong. To its prevalence will correspond congregational life and health. Frequent and close intercourse in a large city church is impossible — all the more necessary, therefore, to combine in the various schemes of Christian effort. One of the most valuable results of Sabbath Schools, Dorcas Societies, etc., is the formation of Christian friendship.
2. Union or accord of souls minding the same thing — the basis of Christian concord — oneness of view in respect to all matters of vital moment. Having this oneness of view Christians will also in the degree in which they yield up their hearts to the common faith have a substantial oneness of disposition and resolution. The "one thing" is —
(1) The advancement of the kingdom of God in ourselves through advance in the beauty and strength of godliness.
(2) In the Church, through the increase of wisdom, purity, and zeal.
(3) In the world, through the universal and successful proclamation of the gospel.
3. Mutual helpfulness. Christian love cannot flourish apart from Christian energy. A monastery is a hot bed of jealousy and discord, and the more closely a denomination or Church approaches this character in inactivity and uselessness, the more open it will be to dissensions.
II. ITS MOTIVE.
1. The fulfilment of the apostle's joy. Each reference to their possible religious experience is like a rod of Divine power calling out a stream of sympathy and affection.
2. If Paul's joy was augmented by the union of the Philippians, much more will Christ's joy be fulfilled by the answer to His prayer "that they all may be one." It is only the dissentions of the Church that postpones this blessed consummation.
III. THE SOURCES OF DISCORD AND THE MEANS OF DRYING THEM UP.
1. The great causes of dissention in any society are here indicated.
2. These evils are only to be removed by the cultivation of the opposite virtues of humility, which is an exclusively Christian grace.
3. This is not meanness of spirit. While it recognizes facts as they are in, human nature, it involves a profound respect for man's possible self.
4. This lowliness of mind leads each to esteem others better than self (Romans 12:10; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5). This does not imply blindness to one's own ability and attainments, or to the deficiencies of others; but a humble view of self will inspire to help others to fill their place of usefulness — "to please them for their good to edification."
5. It will also lead every man to look not on his own things, and to cherish a spirit of unselfishness in regard to others.
(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,