Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing you be otherwise minded…
1. Paul ever kept the dictates of his elevated and inspired judgment under the guidance of Christian kindness. He permits no part of the Christian character to be abridged by another. He never allows his earnestness in maintaining truth and opposing error so betray him into bitterness; nor does he permit his generosity to impair his faithfulness.
2. Our text is a happy combination of these qualities, and is an enforcement of them on others. Were we to imitate them there would be an end of our unhappy dissentions on religious matters.
I. THERE IS A GREAT AND GROWING NUMBER OF THOSE WITH WHOM WE SHOULD CONSCIENTIOUSLY UNITE. Look around and see how many there are who are perfect and thus minded in reference to the most important matters. The rule then should be the rule now (vers. 8-14).
1. We ought to seek and cultivate the society of such, by friendly association and public communion, etc.
2. Let us use the means to promote the mutual improvement of such and of ourselves.
3. Let us do all we can to render our reciprocal union more perfect and our usefulness more extensive.
II. THERE ARE SOME WHO DIFFER FROM US IN MATTERS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE — HOW DOES THE PRINCIPLE APPLY TO THEM? To have no communion with them would be to expel them from the sacred ark into the ranks of the enemy. Those to whom the apostle refers are evidently not those who renounce and revile evangelical truth, but those whose knowledge or whose means or susceptibility for instruction are deficient.
1. Let us give a fair and comprehensive consideration to the way in which their religious characters have been formed.
(1) Education may early have produced an unfavourable impression, or they may have attended an incompetent ministry.
(2) We ought to pay regard to the difficulties and misapprehensions which lie in the use of words, which may be employed ambiguously or ignorantly.
(3) We should reflect what would probably have been the effect upon our minds had we been placed in their circumstances.
(4) When we see in them the apparent evidences of real holiness let us not be backward to acknowledge it.
2. How we ought to act towards them.
(1) With justice. Let us not misrepresent them, nor exaggerate the differences between us.
(2) With kindness. Let us see that our temper be sweet and our manner pleasing.
(3) We should take great care to prevent them imagining that we maintain salvation to be suspended on a mere theoretical belief of some points of doctrine.
III. THERE ARE CHRISTIANS PROM WHOM WE DIFFER ON MATTERS OF SMALLER MOMENT.
1. Let us show them the most sincere and honest respect and kindness.
2. Let us cultivate friendly intercourse with them as far as they are disposed to reciprocate it.
3. Let us hold with them religious communion on proper occasions so far as our and their principles permit.
4. When we state and argue for the points in which we differ from them let us take care to deal justly by them.
5. Let us take equal pains, without intrusion, to make them correctly acquainted with our sentiments.
6. Let everything in our speaking and writing, etc., be a demonstration that we esteem the essential principle and expansive morality of the gospel infinitely above the strict bounds of controversial preciseness and ecclesiastical form.
(J. Pye Smith, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.