For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that you had heard that he had been sick.…
I. THE SICKNESS AND ITS LESSONS.
1. God's children are subject to sickness as long as they live.
(1) This arises from the nature of the body and the character of its surroundings.
(2) Thus grace is strengthened in the soul (2 Corinthians 4:16).
2. God suffers His children to come to extremities, yea, even to death itself, as Hezekiah, Job, Jonah, David, Daniel, the three children, the disciples, our Lord Himself, and by this means it comes to pass that when all ordinary means fail their trust is not placed on the means but on God's own good will and power.
3. God suffers us to fall into extremities that He might try what is in us, and that He might exercise our graces.
II. HIS FEELING. "Full of heaviness," not for himself but for them. "He longed after you all." A great triumph of grace when we can refrain from murmuring about ourselves, and feel only for the effect of our affliction on others.
III. GOD'S INTERPOSITION.
1. Had mercy on him.
(1) God's mercy is the spring of all God's dealings with us.
(2) Let us look to it that we wilfully neglect not or cast not away mercy, nor rest in our own merit.
2. Had mercy on me.
IV. PAUL'S CONDUCT.
1. Although he regarded the restoration of his friend as a special mercy to himself, he was more anxious about the comfort of the Philippians than for his own.
2. This self-denial, however, augmented the apostle's joy, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.