Only let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent…
I. PAUL "PLEADED FOR A CONSISTENT CHRISTIAN CHURCH. The Christian's life is to harmonize with his creed. His life must be characterized by —
1. Truthfulness. God is the author of truth; the Holy Spirit the spirit of truth; the gospel the word of truth; and the Christian must be a man of truth.
2. Love. This is the first and great commandment in the evidence of discipleship, the inspiration of duty, and is due to foes as well as friends.
3. Holiness in thought, desire, and action.
II. FOR A UNITED CHURCH. The early Christians were frequently exhorted to be one in faith, feeling, spirit, and action; the bond was to be love, and the end the establishment of the gospel. This union was necessary —
1. To resist their common adversaries, who were and are combined, persistent, powerful.
2. To develop their Christian graces. Our minds and hearts are enlarged by the intercourse of good men. The bold encourage the timid, the wise instruct the ignorant, the strong shelter the weak. The manifold diversities of our nature and condition constitute the perfection of the Church, as the members of the body.
3. To establish the true faith. The success of the whole depends on the agreement of the parts.
III. FOR A ZEALOUS CHURCH. Christians are to stand by, struggle for, suffer, and even die with one another.
1. This zeal is demanded for a noble object.
(1) We are to strive, not for place, power, or popularity, but —
(2) For the faith: to maintain its purity in our own hearts, and to diffuse its gracious influence through the world.
(3) The tradesman is zealous in business, the statesman in politics, the Christian for the faith.
(4) This was never needed more than now.
2. The object inspires the zeal. It calls into exercise our highest faculties; it informs the judgment, subdues the will, sanctifies the affections, and ennobles the soul. It has done more for the race than all the moralists or philanthropists who have ever lived.
3. This zeal is to be exercised in a commendable spirit, "together." Christians are not to strive against one another. The earnest Christian has no time for useless debate. Cultivate the spirit of brotherly sympathy.
(G. J. Procter.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
WEB: Only let your way of life be worthy of the Good News of Christ, that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your state, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the Good News;