Do all things without murmurings and disputings:…
1. Christian precepts have not suffered any degeneration of meaning. They would naturally be of the gentlest to those emerging from heathenism. If, then, such exhortations were delivered to the newly converted Philippians, we ought to arrive at a high stage of Christian perfection.
2. The apostle says —
(1) "Do all things." Christianity is not mere thinking or feeling, but working.
(2) Without murmurings —
(a) Against God's providence.
(b) Against one another. Let there be no whisperings against those who ought to be esteemed among you.
(c) Against the ungodly world; rather suffer in silence.
(3) Without disputings. Raise not knotty points of controversy. Turn your swords against your adversaries, not against yourselves.
(4) That ye may be blameless. There will be those who will blame you, but don't give them occasion to.
(5) Harmless, or hornless, creatures that not only do no harm, but are incapable of any.
(6) As sons of God. Dignity of relationship should beget dignity of deportment,
(7) Without rebuke, whom men cannot rebuke.
3. All this is as means to an end — "that ye may shine," etc.
I. PUBLICITY REQUIRED. Christians are to be "lights" and to "shine" and that not in the house, but in the "world"; hence secrecy is impossible. Beware, however, of ostentatious Phariseeism, but do not make it an excuse for cowardice. The Christian —
1. Should make a public avowal of his faith, by coming out from among the world and declaring himself on the Lord's side.
2. Should be associated constantly with Christian people. One act of profession is not enough; it should be continued by union with the visible Church. The man that was healed stood with Peter and John.
3. Should daily carry out their Christianity in their life. Do not be a display of fireworks. Let the servant outshine others by being more attentive, and the master by being more generous.
4. Should add the open testimony of words.
5. There are times when there must be a very bold and stern decision for Christ. When the old Roman senator was told by Vespasian that he might go to the senate house, but he must hold his tongue, he answered, "I, being a senator, feel impelled to go into the Senate house, and being in the Senate, it is the part. of a senator to speak what his conscience dictates." "Then," said the Emperor, "if you speak you will die." "Be it known unto thee, O Emperor," said he, "that I never hoped to be immortal, nor did I ever wish to live when I might not speak my mind." This publicity may be further urged from the fact that Christians are runners and soldiers; but who runs or fights in secret?
II. USEFULNESS INTENDED. We are lights —
1. To make manifest. A Christian should so shine that those who come near him are able to see their own character in his life, and to know the gospel.
2. To guide. The mariner understands this. Every Christian should light some part of the voyage of life, and there should not be a channel without its light.
3. For warning. On our rocks and shoals a lighthouse is erected. There are plenty of false lights. Satan's wreckers are always abroad tempting under the name of pleasure. Let us put up the true light on every dangerous rock, and so be clear of the blood of all men.
4. For comfort.
5. For rebuking sin. The gas lamps are the best police we have. Thieves do not like the light. So Christians, when they are in sufficient numbers to act on the commonwealth, make crime less common.
6. The Christian's light, unlike the others, gives light.
III. POSITION INDICATED. "Crooked," etc. This should —
1. Be an incentive. The worse people are, the more need they have of your exertions. If crooked, then make them straight.
2. Administer a caution. Do not wonder if they hate your light, and try to blow it out. Be the more anxious not to give unnecessary offence. Ask Christ to keep you straight and your light burning.
3. Console you. Are you in the midst of a crooked people? So were Paul and the Philippians.
IV. ARGUMENT SUGGESTED. "That I may not run," etc.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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