But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me…
I. THE CROSS AS AN OBJECT OF GLORYING.
1. St. Paul can glory in nothing else. Yet he had whereof to glory. His birth, his education, and his religious devotions had been sources of pride to him. His Christian attainments, his apostolic authority, his missionary triumphs, and his brave endurance of persecutions, might be taken as reasons for self-glorification. But he rejects the whole. Plainly no Christian inferior to St. Paul can have anything in himself to be proud of.
2. The glorying only begins in looking away from self to Christ. Men talk of glorying in their crosses. But St. Paul boasted, not in his own cross, but only in the cross of Christ. He made nothing of his sufferings for Christ; all his interest was absorbed in Christ's sufferings for him. All the brightness of Christian experience centres in Christ.
3. The grand source of glorying is the cross of Christ. The cross was the symbol of shame; it has become the token of what we most reverently adore. So complete is the transformation of ideas that we can with difficulty understand the paradox as it would strike the contemporaries of St. Paul when he spoke of glorying in the cross. It is as though we spoke of priding ourselves on the gallows. This cross, this instrument of shameful death has become the emblem of Christianity. Gleaming in gold on the spires and domes of our cathedrals, it typifies the most vital truth of Christianity. The glory of the cross is not a merely mystical sentiment. It springs from evident facts:
(1) the fidelity of Christ as the good Shepherd, who would not forsake the flock and flee before the wolf;
(2) the patience, gentleness, and forgiving spirit of Christ on the cross; but
(3) chiefly the love of Christ in suffering shame and anguish and death for us. There are some who would dispense with the doctrine of the cross; but a crossless Christianity will be a mutilated, impotent gospel, robbed of all efficacy, shorn of all glory.
II. THE CROSS AS AN INSTRUMENT OF DEATH. The cross does not change its nature by winning its glory. Still, it is a cross - tool of pain and death. It is no less than this to the Christian as it was no less to Christ. For Christianity is not a calm acceptance of what Christ has done in our stead; it is union with Christ, first in his death and then in his victory.
1. The cross means the death of the world to us. Before that glory of Divine love in human passion all lesser lights fade and perish. As we look upon the cross the world loses its hold upon us. In the vision of truth and purity and love even to death, the threats of the world's hurts lose their terror and the fascinations of its pleasures their charm.
2. The cross means our death to the world. Joined with Christ by faith, we have the old self killed out of us. Hitherto the power of the lower world has dragged us down to sin and trouble. But in proportion as we are united to the Crucified we cease to have the feelings and interests which chain us to the earthly. St. Paul describes a magnificent ideal. No man on earth has fully realized it. It must be the aim of the Christian more and more to be one with Christ, that the cross may pass more deeply into his soul till all else melts and fades out of experience. These two aspects of the cross - its death-power in us, its glory in Christ - are directly related. For it is only after it has been the instrument of death to us that we can rise in the new life and see it as the one absorbing object of glory. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.