That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.
I. A FEW WORDS AGAINST INSINCERITY.
1. Against all forms of it. We are all in danger of it, and its sources are numberless, insidious, and within our own breast. It arises from the prevalent excitement; men pleasing, fiction, ritualism.
2. Against religious insincerity. Here the danger is greatest. Men don't counterfeit copper, but gold, He that takes a bad sovereign loses twenty times as much as he who takes a bad shilling. Hence the Word of God is singularly full, and strong against this evil, and religion is described as "wisdom that cometh from above;" without hypocrisy; faith unfeigned; unfeigned love of the brethren; love without dissimulation.
3. Remember our Lord's conduct against it. Every other form of evil is condemned, but with pity and hope. Hypocrisy is branded as beyond the reach of mercy.
II. A FEW WORDS TO PROMOTE SINCERITY. A life sincere and without reproach is sure to be —
1. Harmless and useful. No stumbling block is more fatal than insincerity. We naturally trust the appearance of goodness; but if it proves rottennesss, and gives way, we stumble and hurt ourselves. Few things stagger young Christians more than the inconsistencies of older Christians. Sincerity, however, silences reproach, inspires confidence, commands respect, kindles affection, draws to fellowship.
2. Strong. St. James speaks of a "double-minded man," i.e., a man with two souls — one his real self, the other what he pretends to be. These are sure to play at see-saw. Such a life resembles ploughing with an ox and an ass, always ungainly and inefficient. Such a life is sure to stifle prayer. Reuben was unstable as water, and he did not excel. In opposition to this, the Bible commends the single heart and the single eye. What a man sees clearly he can grip tightly: when he sees his course plainly he goes on confidently.
3. Happy. When conscience smiles all is sunshine; when it frowns it will be to a man what Mordecai was to Haman. "Our rejoicing is this: the testimony of our conscience," etc.
4. Pre-eminently a life with God.
5. Will find its consummation in the coming of the Lord.
Parallel VersesKJV: That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;