It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart. For in my chains and in my defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partners in grace with me.
I. LOVE INSPIRES CONFIDENCE. "I have you in my heart." Therefore, he says, it is right for him to cherish this confidence respecting them. It is the nature of love to have this confident hope, for it "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things' (1 Corinthians 13:7). The intensity of his love enhanced his confidence. The apostle's love was peculiarly tender. "For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ." The appeal to God marks the sincerity of his love. But its true origin, its pattern, its fervency, are only to be found in the bowels of Christ. The heart of the apostle throbs in unison with the heart of Christ.
II. ANOTHER GROUND OF CONFIDENCE WAS THEIR SYMPATHETIC FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM IN SUFFERING AND IN SERVICE.
1. They identified themselves with him "in his bonds by ministering once and again to his necessities and cheering him by their sympathies. They remembered him as an ambassador in bonds," as we are all bound to "remember them that are in bonds as bound with them" (Hebrews 13:2). They did it, too, at a time when Roman sympathy seems to have been sorely wanting. It is strange that.. he with a Church in the capital of the world, he should have been dependent upon the charity of the far distant Philippians.
2. They identified themselves heartily both with his defense of the gospel either before heathen magistrates or Jewish opponents, and with his positive establishment of the truth. There is a negative and a positive side in the great teaching office of the Church. - T.C.
I have you in my heartI. Was it a slip of the pen when Paul wrote "I HAVE YOU IN MY HEART"? Will he modify it? No, he will make it more than it was. Lest it should be supposed that it was only his manner of speech, and that he is only uttering a passing sentiment, he puts before what he has to say a solemn asseveration. "God is my witness." Such a form of expression would hardly be regarded in these days as meeting the laws of taste and propriety, and some object to it on the ground that God cannot be called into court to witness to a thing, and that after all it is only the testimony of a man. Granted: Yet it is the highest form in which testimony can be given. And apart from the apostle's anxiety to be believed, there was a naturalness in his using it which would not belong to any other. He was often alone, separated from his converts, but he carried them about with him in his heart. He often spoke to God about them, so that God knew of his love to them. And not only so; it is as though he said, "Did I say I had you in my heart? I should rather have said, 'I long after you in the heart of Jesus Christ.' 'I love, yet not I, but Christ loveth in me.' His heart and mine meet in unison here."
II. LOVING THUS HOW NATURAL THAT HE SHOULD PRAY ABOUT THEIR LOVE. He asks that the great love faculty should fill their souls. "In all knowledge." There is the knowledge of the schoolboy, of the well-informed man, of the philosopher. Here it is the latter, the higher knowledge, such as is strong meat to the strong man. "In all perception." The first term deals with the general knowledge of the gospel; this comes down to particulars of Christian apprehension, "That ye may approve things that are excellent" or "try things that differ." It is good to have the faculty for so discerning, that we may never call darkness light; but the apostle prays for more, even that in the region of things, all of which are good and true, they may discern the most excellent, always seeing and choosing the best. Again, there are different ways of doing good things. So that the apostle goes on to pray that they may be "sincere and without offence" or "stumbling" — anything that prevents advance.
III. THE PRAYER IS SUMMED UP in the words: "that ye may be filled with the fruits of righteousness." In so doing they would have the sublime glory of living to the praise of God — the highest end and aim of being. Men living the Christian life by distinct intent and aim achieve the noblest thing in actual result. Bat a little thing does it seem? Every little stream contributes to the majestic swell of the ocean, so every fruitful life is sending its little to contribute to the fulness of the Divine glory.
IV. THE RELATION BETWEEN THE PHRASE, "THAT YOUR LOVE MAY ABOUND," AND ALL THAT COMES AFTER. That is the root phrase, the key to the position, mother to all the virtues. Love will produce all these, and make a beautiful character. The soul is a living house having many doors. Some, the greatest number, stand by the door of reason, and strive to enter, and many go in. But when they get in they find the house full of company. How did they get in? By other doors, or by the windows. From deep convictions, blossoming hopes, and heavenly aspirings, but most got in by the door of love. This is not so imposing a way of entrance. There is no great knocker to this door called logic. You come in by it softly, you do but whisper, and are admitted.
V. THE PRACTICAL USE of all this is that we should take the best things we can think of to promote the aboundings of love.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)The sixth verse was like the peal of a trumpet; the seventh is the low sweet murmur of the summer morning. The expression of the text is of singular beauty. Who can measure the circumference of a truly philanthropic heart? Has arithmetic any cunning art by which to calculate the girth of that organ of affection? A man in Rome carrying the Philippian Church in his heart!
I. HE WHO CARRIES THE WORLD ELSEWHERE THAN IN HIS HEART WILL SOON WISH TO CAST OFF HIS BURDEN.
II. HE WHO CARRIES THE GOOD IN HIS HEART CAN NEVER BE DESOLATE. Loneliness is an impossibility to the well-stored heart.
III. HE WHOSE HEART IS ENGAGED WITH THE TENDER OFFICES OF AFFECTION IS THE PROFOUNDEST INTERPRETER AND THE MOST EFFICIENT SERVANT OF MANKIND.
IV. HE WHO ENSHRINES HIS BENEFACTORS IN HIS HEART HAS BROKEN THE DOMINION OF SELFISHNESS.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Weekly Pulpit., J. Lyth, D. D.I. THE COMMON INTEREST — "defence and confirmation."
1. They sympathized with the apostle in his trials. These trials arose not out of political or moral offences, but out of his defence and propagation of the gospel. The Philippians made common cause with him, supporting him by gifts and prayer. The true character of Christianity is seen here. When the Jews are in sackcloth and ashes, Esther is pleading their cause; when Peter is in prison, the disciples are praying for his release. The Church is one in adversity as well as prosperity; one in prison as well as in heaven. Remember that as you think of missionaries, and your persecuted brethren in the home, workshop, etc. (Hebrews 13:3).
2. They seconded the apostle's efforts by their lives and labours. They lived the gospel he preached. Their sympathy was deeper than attachment to his person, or admiration of his character. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." "See how these Christians love one another," was the evidence wrung from minds full of animus. No power can shake the gospel when firmly rooted in the life of the Church. Sceptics may as well scoff at the light of the sun as ignore the gospel of the life and character.
II. THE MUTUAL LOVE AND ESTEEM WHICH THIS SERVICE PRODUCES — "I have you in my heart;" as we say of a friend, "He has a warm place in my heart."
1. It was a great love.
2. Constant love. The old adage "out of sight, out of mind," was not true here.
3. Increasing love. Many streams dry up, but "let brotherly love continue."
III. THE COMMON SOURCE OF BLESSEDNESS — "partakers with me," etc.
1. By the one sacrifice of Jesus they were saved from sin. There is but one fountain opened for sin.
2. The example of Jesus led them all in the right way. With one accord all believers "show forth the praises of Him who hath called them," etc.
3. His presence was their one source of inspiration. Daily communion with Jesus kept their zeal burning, and their work advancing.
4. His coming was their only hope.
(Weekly Pulpit.)Observe —
I. WHAT A FAITHFUL MINISTER DELIGHTS TO THINK OF IN HIS FLOCK: That they will be —
II. WHY HE DELIGHTS TO THINK SO. Because —
1. He loves them.
2. Labours for them.
3. Suffers for them.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
I. THE ADVOCACY OF THE BEST OF CAUSES MAY BRING A MAN INTO SOCIAL HUMILIATION.
II. SOCIAL HUMILIATION DOES NOT NECESSARILY INVOLVE MORAL DISHONOUR.
III. WHILE THE MORALLY HONOURABLE ARE SUFFERING FROM SOCIAL HUMILIATION THEY WILL NOT BE ABANDONED BY THE PARTAKERS OF THE SAME GRACE. Another proof of the uniting and consolidating force of Christianity.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
The Study.There are instincts in human nature by which we love the beautiful, the useful, the tender, and the loving; but this love drew its inspiration from character and from life. This is the result of the love of Christ in us. Two drops of rain fall on the same stone, and near each other. By the force of the affinity they will travel the short distance, and unite. Divine love comes down in drops, which attract each other to form the Christian Church. In the concerted action of that society, all intellects are fused into one wisdom; all consciences unite to make one great moral force: all hearts are joined, as so many embers gathered together to make a large fire; all wills are blended to create a power before which opposition must cease. As water will find its level, so the love of Christians will rise as high as its source. The Saviour loved the world, and died for it; so St. John says that we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
(G. G. Ballard.)
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