Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.…
The words depend upon the former, "Fulfil my joy that ye be," etc. Why? "That nothing be done through strife," etc. As if he should have said, If there be among you contention and vain glory it is not possible that you should be like minded, and so my joy is unfulfilled.
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.