Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves.
I. Warning faction and VAIN-GLORY. "Let nothing be done through faction or vain-glory." True unity of spirit is inconsistent alike with the exaltation of party and the exaltation of self. Faction carries men beyond the bounds of discretion, and rends the unity of the brotherhood. "The beginning of strife is as the letting out of water" (Proverbs 17:14). It should be "an honor for a man to cease from" it (Proverbs 20:3). Vain-glory, personal vanity, carries men into many follies and sins. "For men to search their own glory is not glory" (Proverbs 25:29). "There is more hope of a fool than of" such a one (Proverbs 26:12). We ought, therefore, to pray, "Remove far from me vanity and lies."
II. THE ESTIMATE OF A HUMBLE-MINDED MAN. "In humbleness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." This implies:
1. That we have modest thoughts of ourselves. (Proverbs 26:12.)
2. That we have a just idea of others excellences. (1 Peter 2:17.)
3. That in honor we are to prefer one another. (Romans 12:10.) The reasons for this command are:
(1) If we excel others in some things, they may excel us in others (Romans 12:4).
(2) We know not but others are more dear to God than ourselves, though they seem inferior to ourselves.
III. AN UNSELFISH INTEREST IN THE WELFARE OF OTHERS. "Not regarding your own interests, but also the interests of others." There is nothing here said inconsistent with the most careful and conscientious discharge of the duty we owe to ourselves. The injunction of the apostle is profoundly Christ-like. It implies:
1. That we are to desire one another's good. (1 Timothy 2:1.)
2. That we are to rejoice in one another's prosperity. (Romans 12:15.)
3. That we are to pity one another's misery. (Romans 12:15.)
4. That we are to help one another in our necessities. (1 John 2:17, 18.) It reiterates the command of Christ: "Love one another." No other command can be performed without this one (Romans 13:10); we cannot love God without it (1 John 2:17); and this is true religion (James 1:27). - T.C.
Let nothing be done through strife or vain gloryI. Up to this point the apostle continues his APPEAL FOR UNANIMITY. The spirit of this appeal is that of profound and tender sympathy with Christ. When history gives up her dead it will be found that where the rod has conquered its tens, love has won its thousands. The anxiety for entire oneness in the Church is in harmony with Christ's prayer. Paul was wont to call for this. Absence of union is a reflection on the uniting force.
II. THE UNITING FORCE IN A CHRISTIAN CHURCH IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST. Where, then, there is disunion, it is plain that there is either not sufficient of this love, or that it is unequal to the exigencies of the case. Hence the grandeur and urgency of the appeal, "If there be any consolation in Christ;" as though he had said, "Remember that Christ's love is on trial." Men are looking on you as an experiment, and that not only you but Christ Himself will be deeply involved in the event of failure.
III. A DISCORDANT CHURCH IS A REFLECTION ON THE MORAL POWER OF THE SAVIOUR, BECAUSE, WITHOUT HIM THE CHURCH WOULD NOT BE IN EXISTENCE. The world has a right to compare the deeds of the servant with the spirit of the Master, because the connection is moral and involves responsibility. A recently erected edifice, e.g., has fallen. How do men treat the fact? They instantly connect it with the architect or the builder. When a chemical experiment has failed men blame the manipulator. So all the practices of the Church are carried back to Christ, and He is magnified, or put to an open shame, according to their nature.
IV. WHAT CONCLUSION ARE WE TO COME TO FROM ALL THIS ON THE SUBJECT OF MUTUAL DISCIPLINE? Are charity and justice to be sundered? Is there not to be a law of right in the Church? Is the garment of love to be thrown over the leper? Hear what Paul says (2 Thessalonians 3:6; Romans 16:17). The tones vary but the voice is the same Christ called Herod a fox, and said that Nathaniel was without guile. God can be warm as summer and chilling as winter. The apostle is perfectly consistent. The voice is as truly one as is the voice of a mother, when she sings her child to slumber, or shrieks at the approach of a ravenous beast.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. HE WOULD HAVE NOTHING DONE THROUGH CONTENTION.
1. Contention should be abandoned by Christians, i.e., they should take no pleasure in dissenting from others (Galatians 5:20, 24; Proverbs 26:21). The schisms and heresies wherewith the Church at all times is troubled, come commonly from men who take a pleasure in dissent, such as Arius, Nestorius, Macedonius, etc.
2. But may nothing be done through contention? May not Micaiah set himself against four hundred false prophets (2 Chronicles 18), and Jeremiah strive with the whole earth (Jeremiah 15:10), and a pure Church with error? To know whether any thing is done through contention two rules are necessary.(1) Is it done upon a humour to contradict whether true or false?(2) When the truth is manifested is the opposition still maintained?
II. THE APOSTLE WOULD REPRESS THE EVIL OF VAIN-GLORY, a vain affection of glory, which is when vain men, to get themselves glory, single themselves in some vanity from the rest (Galatians 5:26).
1. The reason is that men desirous of this cannot, as they should, as becometh Christians, be of one accord with others.
2. It is vain-glory that we are not to affect, for this glory is allowable that men speak well of us, and glorify God on our behalf.
III. AS A REMEDY THE APOSTLE PRESCRIBES MEEKNESS OF MIND.
1. Humility is opposed to contention and vain-glory as a preservative against them, and a preserver of that unity and concord of which they are the bane.
2. Ye see how it is defined to be a virtue, whereby every man, in whatsoever state or place he be, esteemeth other better than himself (Ephesians 4:2). In modesty we are to yield in many things of our own right, so that, though David knew himself to be better than Saul, yet in meekness of mind he may esteem Saul better than himself.
IV. ANOTHER REMEDY (ver. 4) IS NOT TO LOOK ON OUR OWN THINGS BUT ON THE THINGS OF OTHERS. Self seeking is an enemy also to concord. If we look on our own graces, wit, learning, goods, and neglect or contemn those of other men, what else will follow but vain glory and contention (Luke 18:11). We may look on our own things and glorify God, but not to glorify them; and on the things of others, not to envy them but to reverence them.
(H. Airay, D. D.)I. ITS FEATURES.
1. It distrusts self.
2. Honours others.
II. ITS EFFECT. It excludes —
III. ITS OBLIGATION.
1. It is conformable to the mind of Christ.
2. It contributes to social happiness.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. WHAT IS FORBIDDEN.
1. Not a proper care for one's own health. reputation, interest, etc., but a selfish disregard of the happiness, claims, and rights of others.
II. WHAT IS ENJOINED? not inquisitiveness, but consideration, sympathy, help — because of God's ordination, our own mutual dependence, Christ's example, the pleasure and reward.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I.
II. III. (J. Lyth, D. D.) (Lord Bacon.) (J. Daille.) (Owen Feltham.) (J. A. James.)Frederick the Great once sent a sword to George Washington with the inscription, "From the oldest soldier to the greatest." (H. O. Mackay.) (H. W. Beecher.) (Christian Age.) (Professor Eadie.) (H. W. Beecher.)
III. (J. Lyth, D. D.) (Lord Bacon.) (J. Daille.) (Owen Feltham.) (J. A. James.)Frederick the Great once sent a sword to George Washington with the inscription, "From the oldest soldier to the greatest." (H. O. Mackay.) (H. W. Beecher.) (Christian Age.) (Professor Eadie.) (H. W. Beecher.)
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
(J. A. James.)Frederick the Great once sent a sword to George Washington with the inscription, "From the oldest soldier to the greatest."
(H. O. Mackay.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(Christian Age.)ἀρπαγμός, and that was the redemption of a fallen world by His abasement and death. Or to speak after the manner of men, two things were present to His mind. Either continuance in the form of God, and being always equal with God, but allowing humanity to perish; or vailing this form and foregoing this equality for a season, and delivering by His condescension and agony the fallen progeny of Adam. He gave the latter the preference from His possession of His "mind," and in indiscribable generosity He looked at the things of others, and descended with His splendour eclipsed — appeared not as God in glory, but clothed in flesh; not in royal robes, but in the dress of a village youth; not as a Deity in fire, but a man in tears; not in a palace, but in a manger; not with a thunderbolt in His hand, but with the hammer and hatchet of a Galilean mechanic, and in this way He gave the Church an example of that self-abnegation and kindness which the apostle here enforces, "Look not every one on his own things, but also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
(H. W. Beecher.)