« Prev Chapter VIII. Working and Shining. Next »



130"So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labour in vain. Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all: and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me."—Phil. ii. 12-18 (R.V.).




After his great appeal to the mind of Christ, the Apostle can pursue his practical object; and he can do so with a certain tranquillity, confident that the forces he has just set in motion will not fail to do their work. But yet that same appeal itself has tended to broaden and deepen the conception of what should be aimed at. He had deprecated the arrogant and the selfish mind, as these are opposed to lovingkindness and regard for others. But now, in presence of the great vision of the Incarnation and obedience of Christ, the deeper note of lowliness must be struck in fit accord with that of love; not only lowliness in the way of doing ready honour to others, but deep and adoring lowliness towards God, such as is due both from creatures and from sinners. For if Christ's love fulfilled itself in such a perfect humility, how deeply does it become us to bear towards God in Christ a mind of penitence and gratitude, of loving awe and wonder, such as shall at the same time for ever exclude from our bearing towards others both pride and self-seeking.132 In this way the one practical object suggested by the circumstances at Philippi—namely, loving unity—now allies itself naturally with ideas of complete and harmonious Christian life; and various views of that life begin to open. But each aspect of it still proves to be connected with the gracious and gentle mind of Christ, in the lowly form of that mind which is appropriate for a sinner who is also a believer.

So then they are to apply themselves to the "calling wherewith they are called," in a spirit of "fear and trembling." The phrase is a common one with the Apostle (1 Cor. ii. 3; 2 Cor. vii. 15; Eph. v. 6). He uses it where he would express a state of mind in which willing reverence is joined with a certain sensitive anxiety to escape dangerous mistakes and to perform duty well. And it is fitly called for here, for

1. If lowliness so became the Divine Saviour, who was full of grace, wisdom, and power, then what shall be the mind of those who in great guilt and need have found part in the salvation, and who are going forward to its fulness? What shall be the mind of those who, in this experience, are looking up to Christ—looking up to lowliness? Surely not the spirit of strife and vainglory (ver. 3), but of fear and trembling—the mind that dreads to be presumptuous and arrogant, because it finds the danger to be still near.

2. The salvation has to be wrought out. It must come to pass in your case in the line of your own endeavour. Having its power and fulness in Christ, and133 bestowed by Him on you, yet this deliverance from distance, estrangement, darkness, unholiness, is given to believers to be wrought out: it comes as a right to be realised, and as a power to be exercised, and as a goal to be attained. Think of this,—you have in hand your own salvation—great, Divine, and wonderful—to be wrought out. Can you go about it without fear and trembling? Consider what you are—consider what you believe—consider what you seek—and what a spirit of lowly and contrite eagerness will pervade your life! This holds so much the more, because the salvation itself stands so much in likeness to Christ—that is to say, in a loving lowliness. Let a man think how much is in him that tends, contrariwise, to self-assertion and self-seeking, and he will have reason enough to fear and tremble as he lays fresh hold on the promises, and sets his face to the working out of this his own salvation.

3. This very working out, from whom does it come? Are you the explanation and last source of it? What does it mean? Wherever it takes place, it means that, in a very special sense, God's mighty presence and power is put forth in us to will and to do. Shall not this thought quell our petulance? Where is room now for anything but fear and trembling—a deep anxiety to be lowly, obedient, compliant?

Whether, therefore, we look to the history of the Saviour, or to the work to which our own life is devoted, or to the power that animates that work and134 on which it depends—in all alike we find ourselves committed to the lowly mind; and in all alike we find ourselves beset with a wealth of free beneficence, which lays obligation on us to be self-forgetting and loving. We are come into a wonderful world of compassionate love. That is the platform on which we stand—the light we see by—the music that fills our ears—the fragrance that rises on every side. If we are to live here, there is only one way for it—there is only one kind of life that can live in this region. And, being, as we are, alas, so strangely coarse and hard—even if this gospel gladdens us, there may well thrill through our gladness a very honest and a very contrite "fear and trembling."

Now all this is by the Apostle persuasively urged upon his Philippian children (ver. 12): "As ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence." For, indeed, it proves easy comparatively for our human indolence to yield to the spell of some great and forcible personality when he is present. It is even pleasant to allow ourselves to be borne on by the tide of his enthusiastic goodness. And when the Apostle was at Philippi, it might come easier to many of them to feel the force and scope of their calling in Christ. And yet now that he was gone, now was the time for them to prove for themselves, and evince to others, the durable worth of the great discovery they had made, and the thoroughness of the decision which had transformed their lives. Now, also,135 was the time to show Paul himself, that their "obedience" was of the deep and genuine quality which alone could give content to him.

Such in general seems to be the scope of these two verses. But one or two of the points deserve to be considered a little before we go on.

Mark how emphatically the Apostle affirms the great truth, that every good thing accompanying salvation which comes to pass in Christians is of the mighty power and grace of God. Therefore Christianity must stand so much in asking and in thanking. It is God that worketh in you. He does it, and no other than He; it is His prerogative. He worketh to will and to do. The inclination of the heart and the purpose of the will are of Him; and the striving to bring forth into act and deed what has been so conceived—that also is of Him. He quickens those who were dead in trespasses and sins; He gives the renewing of the Holy Ghost; He makes His children perfect, working in them that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ. All this He does in the exercise of His proper power, in the "exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe"—"according to the working of His mighty power, which wrought in Christ when He was raised from the dead." Apparently we are to take it that in the children of God there is the new heart, or new nature, in respect of which they are new creatures; and also the indwelling of God by His Spirit; and also the actual working of the same Spirit in all fruits136 of righteousness which they bring forth to the glory and praise of God. And these three are so connected, that regard should be had to all of them when we contemplate each.

He worketh to will and to do. From Him all godly desires and purposes proceed—from Him, every passage in our lives in which the "salvation that is in Christ Jesus" is by us received, put to proof, wrought out into the transactions of our lives. It must be so, if we will only think of it. For this "salvation" involves an actual, and in principle a complete agreement with God, affirmed and embodied in each right thought, and word, and deed. Whence could this flow but from Himself?

In their statements and explanations about this Christians have differed. The difference has been mainly on the point, how to make it clear that men are not dealt with as inert nor as irresponsible; that they must not hold themselves excused from working on the ground that God works all. For all agree that men are called to the most serious earnestness of purpose and the most alert activity of action; but the theorising of this activity occasions debate. It is from the motive of trying to make more room for these indispensable elements on the human side, that modes of statement have been suggested which limit or explain away the Apostle's statement here. The motive is commendable, but the method is not commonly successful. All efforts to divide the ground between God and man137 go astray. In the inward process of salvation, and especially in this "willing and doing," God does all, and also man does all. But God takes precedence. For it is He that quickeneth the dead, and calleth things that are not as though they were. Here we may say, as the Apostle does in another case, "This is a great mystery." Let us recognise it as a mystery bound up with any hope we ourselves have of proving to be children of God. And under the sense of it, with fear and trembling let us work, for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do.

He worketh in us to will. When I trace back any of my actions to the fountain where it takes its rise as mine, I find that fountain in my will. The materials which I take up into my act, the impressions which gather together to create a situation for me, may all have their separate history going back in the order of cause and effect to the beginning of the world; but that which makes it mine, is that I will, I choose, and thereupon I do it. Therefore also it is that I must answer for it, because it is mine. I willed it, and in willing it I created something which pertains to me, and to no other; something began which is mine, and the responsibility for it cleaves only to me. But in the return to God through Christ, and in the working out of that salvation, there are acts of mine, most truly mine; and yet in these another Will, the Will of Him who saves, is most intimately concerned. He worketh in us to will. It is not an enslaving, but an emancipating138 energy. It brings about free action, yet such as fulfils a most gracious Divine purpose. So these "willings" embody a consent, a union of heart and mind and will, His and mine, the thought of which is enough to bow me to the ground with "fear and trembling." This is He who gathereth the dispersed of Israel into one.

On the other hand, the salvation is to be wrought out by us. To have faith in the Son of God in exercise and prevalence; to have heart and life formed to childlike love of God, and to the fulfilment of His will; to carry this out against the flesh and the world and the devil,—all this is a great career of endeavour and attainment. It is much to make the discoveries implied in it: finding out at each stage the meaning of it, and how it should take shape. It is much to have the heart brought to beat true to it, to love it, consent to it, be set upon it. It is much to embody it in faithful and successful practice in the rough school of life, with its actual collision and conflict. Now the nature and working of God's grace at each stage is of this kind, that it operates in three ways at least. It operates as a call, an effectual call, setting a man on to arise and go. It operates also in a way of instruction, setting us to learn lessons, teaching us how to live, as it is said in Titus ii. 11, 12. And it operates as a power, as help in time of need. He that sits still at the call—he that will not be considerate to learn the lesson—he that will not cast himself on the strength139 perfected in weakness, that he may fulfil and do the Father's will—he is a man who despises and denies the grace of God.

Now what has been said of the believer's relation to the saving God, prepares the way for referring to his office towards the world. Here the moral and practical theme which is in the Apostle's mind all through proves again to be in place: the lowly and loving mind will best discharge that office towards the world, which the arrogant and distempered mind would hinder. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be blameless and harmless."

A murmuring and disputatious temper—murmuring at what displeases us, and multiplying debate about it—is simply one form of the spirit which Paul deprecates all through this context. It is the sign of the disposition to value unduly one's own ease, one's own will, one's own opinion, one's own party, and to lie at the catch for opportunities to bring that feeling into evidence. Now observe the harm which the Apostle anticipates. It is your office to serve God by making a right impression on the world. How shall that come to pass? Chiefly, or at least primarily, the Apostle seems to say, by the absence of evil. At least, that is the most general and the safest notion of it, with which to begin. Some, no doubt, make impressions by their eloquence, or by their wisdom, or by their140 enterprising and successful benevolence—though all these have dangers and drawbacks attending them, in so far as the very energy of action provides a shelter for unperceived self-will. Still, let them have their place and their praise. But here is the line that might suit all. A man whose life stands clear of the world's deformities, under the influence of a light and a love from which the world is estranged, gradually makes an impression.

Now murmuring and disputing are precisely adapted to hinder this impression. And sometimes they hinder it in the case of people of high excellence—people who have much sound and strong principle, who have large benevolence, who are capable of making remarkable sacrifices to duty when they see it. Yet this vice, perhaps a surface vice, of murmuring and disputing, is so suggestive of a man's self being uppermost, it so unpleasantly forces itself in as the interpretation of the man, that his real goodness is little accounted of. At all events, the peculiar purity of the Christian character—its blamelessness and harmlessness, its innocence—does not in his case come to light. People say: "Ah, he is one of the mixed ones, like ourselves. Christian devoutness suits some people: they are sincere enough in it very likely; but it leaves them, after all, pretty much as it found them."

I say no more about murmuring and disputing as these reveal themselves in our relations to others. But the same spirit, and attended in its operations with the141 same evil effects, may manifest itself in other ways besides that of unkindness to men. As frequently, perhaps, it may show itself in our behaviour towards God; and in that case it interferes at least as seriously with the shining of our light in the world.

Just as in the camp of Israel of old on many memorable occasions there arose a murmuring of the people against God, when His ways crossed their will, or seemed dark to their wisdom; just as, on such occasions, there broke out among the people the expression of doubt, dislike, and disputation, and they criticised those Divine dealings which should have been received with trust and lowliness,—so is it also, many a time, in the little world within us. There are such and such duties to be discharged and such and such trials to be encountered—or else a general course of duty is to be pursued under certain discouragements and perplexities. And, you submit, you do these things. But you do them with murmuring and disputing in your heart. Why should it be thus? "How is it fit," you say, "that such perplexities or such burdens should be appointed? Is it not reasonable, all things considered, that I should have more indulgence and greater facilities; or, at least, that I should be excused from this conflict and this burden-bearing for the present?" Meanwhile our conscience is satisfied because we have not rebelled in practice; and it takes no strict account of the fretfulness which marred our act, or the grumbling which well-nigh withheld us from142 compliance. You are called, perhaps, to speak to some erring friend, or you have to go on a message of mercy to some one in affliction. Indolently you postpone it; and your heart begins to stretch out its arms and to cling to the careless temper it has begun to indulge. At last conscience stirs, conscience is up, and you have to do something. But what you do is done grudgingly, with a heart that is murmuring and disputing. Again, you are called to deny yourself some worldly pleasure; in Christian consistency you have to hold back from some form of dissipation; or you have to take up a position of singularity and separation from other people. Reluctantly, you comply; only "murmuring and disputing." Now this inward temper may never come to any man's knowledge, but shall we suppose it does not tell on the character and the influence of the life? Can you, in that temper, play your part with the childlike, the cheerful, the dignified bearing, with the resemblance to Christ in your action, which God calls for? You cannot. The duty as to the husk and shell of it may be done; but there can be little radiation of Christ's likeness in the doing of it.

Notice the Apostle's conception of the function which believers are to discharge in the world. They are set in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. These words were applied to the children of Israel of old on account of the stubborn insubordination with which they dealt with God; and they were applicable, for the same reason, to the Gentiles, among whom the143 gospel had come, but who had not bowed to it. Judged by the high and true standard, these Gentiles were crooked and perverse in their ways with one another, and still more so in their ways with God. Among them the Christians were to show what Christianity was, and what it could do. In the Christians was to appear, embodied, the testimony proposed to the crooked and perverse nation, a testimony against its perverseness, and yet revealing a remedy for it. In the persons of men, themselves originally crooked and perverse, this was to become plain and legible. Now how? Why, by their being blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke.

It has been remarked already that the special way in which we are to manifest to the world the light of Christianity is here represented as the way of blamelessness. That man aright represents the mind of Christ to the world, who in the world keeps himself unspotted from the world,—in whom men recognise a character that traces up to a purer source elsewhere. As years pass, as cross lights fall upon the life, even in its most common and private workings, if it still proves that the man is cleansed by the faith he holds, if the unruly working of interest, and passion, and will, give way in him to motives of a higher strain, men will be impressed. They will own that here is something rare and high, and that some uncommon cause is at the bottom of it. For the world knows well that even the better sort of men have their weaker side,144 often plainly enough revealed by the trials of time. Therefore steadfast purity makes, at last, a deep impression.

Innocence indeed is not the whole duty of a Christian; active virtue is required as well. The harmlessness called for is not a mere negative quality—it is supposed to be exhibited in an active life which strives to put on Christ Jesus. But the Apostle seems to lay stress especially on a certain quiet consistency, on a lowly and loving regard to the whole standard, which gives evenness and worthiness to the life. If you will do a Christian's office to the "perverse nation," you have to seek that they may have nothing against you except concerning the law of your God; you have to seek that your reproach may be exclusively the reproach of Christ: so that if at any time the malice of men seeks to misconstrue your actions, and lays to your charge things which you know not, your well-doing may silence them; and having no evil thing to say of you, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

Strong appeals are made in our day to members of the Christian Church to engage actively in all kinds of Christian work. They are summoned to go forth aggressively upon the world's misery and sin. This has become a characteristic note of our time. Such appeals were needed. It is a shame that so many Christians have absolved themselves from the obligation to place at their Lord's service the aptitudes145 and the energies with which He has endowed them. Yet in this wholesale administration diversities are apt to be overlooked. Christians may be undervalued who do not possess qualities fitting them for the special activities; or, attempting these without much aptitude, and finding little success, they may be unduly cast down. It is important to lay stress on this. There are some, perhaps we should say many, who must come to the conclusion, if they judge aright, that their gifts and opportunities indicate for them, as their sphere, a somewhat narrow round of duties, mostly of that ordinary type which the common experience of human life supplies. But if they bring into these a Christian heart; if they use the opportunities they have; if they are watchful to please their Lord in the life of the family, the workshop, the market; if the purifying influence of the faith by which they live comes to light in the steady excellence of their character and course,—then they need have no sense of exclusion from the work of Christ and of His Church. They, too, do missionary work. Blameless, harmless, unrebuked, they are seen as lights in the world. They contribute, in the manner that is most essential of all, to the Church's office in the world. And their place of honour and reward shall be far above that of many a Christian busybody, who is too much occupied abroad to keep the light clear and bright at home.

Blameless, then, harmless, unaspersed, must the children of God, His redeemed children, be. So will the146 light of Christian character come clearly out, and Christians will be "luminaries, holding forth the word of life."

The word of life is the message of salvation as it sets forth to us Christ, and goodness and blessedness by Him. Substantially it is that teaching which we have in the Scriptures; although, when Paul wrote, the New Testament was not yet a treasure of the Churches, and the "word of life" only echoed to and fro from teacher to taught, and from one disciple to another. Still, the teaching rested on the Old Testament Scriptures understood in the light of the testimony of Jesus; and it was controlled and guided by men speaking and writing in the Spirit. What it was therefore was very well known, and the influence of it as the seed of life eternal was felt. It was for Christians to hold by it, and to hold it out,—the expression used in ver. 16 may have either meaning; and virtually both senses are here. In order to give light there must be life. And Christian life depends on having in us the word, quick and powerful, which is to dwell in us richly in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. This must be the secret of blameless Christian lives; and so those who have this character will give light, as holding forth the word of life. The man's visible character itself does this. For while the word and message of life is to be owned, professed, in fit times proclaimed, yet the embodiment of it in the man is the main point here, the character being formed and the practice determined by the "word" believed. So also we are said to live by the147 faith of the Son of God. The life of faith on Him, is the life of having and holding forth His word.

Here, as everywhere, our Lord goes first. The Apostle John, speaking in his Gospel of the Eternal Word, tells us that in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. It was not merely a doctrine of light; the life was the light. As He lived, in His whole being, in His acting and suffering, in His coming and staying and departing, in His Person and in His discharge of every office, He manifested the Father. Still we find it so; as we contemplate Him, as His words leads us to Himself, we behold the glory, the radiance of grace and truth.

Now His people are made like Him. They too, through the word of life, become partakers of true life. This life does not dwell in them as it does in their Lord, for He is its original seat and source; hence they are not the light of the world in the same sense in which He is so. Still they are luminaries, they are stars in the world. By manifesting the genuine influence of the word of life which dwells in them, they do make manifest in the world what truth and purity and salvation are. This is their calling; and, in a measure, it is their attainment.

The view of the matter given here may be compared with that in 2 Cor. iii. 4. Christ, the Father's Word, may also be regarded as the Father's living Epistle. Then those who behold Him, and drink in the significance of this message, are also themselves, in148 their turn, Epistles of Christ, known and read of all men.

So to shine is the calling of all believers, not of some only; each, according to his opportunities, may and ought to fulfil it. God designs to be glorified, and to have His salvation justified, in this form. Christ has said, in the plainest terms, "Ye are the light of the world." But to be so implies separateness from the world, in root and in fruits; and that is for many a hard saying. "Ye are a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."

In the sixteenth and following verses comes in again Paul's own share in the progress and victory of the Christian life in his friends. "It would be exceeding well," he seems to say, "for you; how well, you may gather partly from learning how well it would be for me." He would have cause to "rejoice in the day of Christ" that he had "not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." What might be said on this has been anticipated in the remarks made on ch. i., ver. 20 fol. But here the Apostle is thinking of something more than the toil and labour expended in the work. More than these was to fall to his lot. His life of toil was to close in a death of martyrdom. And whether the Apostle was or was not enabled to foresee this certainly, doubtless he looked forward to it as altogether probable. So he says: "But if I be offered (or poured out as a drink-offering) in the sacrifice and service of your faith, I149 joy and rejoice with you all; and do ye also likewise joy and rejoice with me."

To see the force of this expression we must remember that it was an ancient custom to seal and complete a sacrifice by the pouring out of a libation on the altar or at the foot of it. This might be intended as the crowning testimony of the abundant freewill with which the service had been rendered and the sacrifice had been offered. To some such rite the Apostle alludes when he speaks of himself—that is to say, of his own life—as poured forth at the sacrifice and service of their faith. And it is not hard to understand the idea which dictates this mode of speech.

We read in Romans xii. an exhortation to the saints to yield themselves a living sacrifice, which sacrifice is their reasonable service. They were to do so in the way of not being conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of their minds. So here: the course of conduct which the Apostle had been exhorting the Philippians to pursue was an act of worship or service, and in particular it was a sacrifice, the sacrifice of their faith, the sacrifice in which their faith was expressed. Each believer in offering this sacrifice acts as a priest, being a member of the holy priesthood which offers to God spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter ii. 5). Such a man is not, indeed, a priest to make atonement, but he is a priest to present offerings through Christ his Head. The Philippians, then, in so far as they were, or were to be, yielding themselves in this manner150 to God, were priests who offered to God a spiritual sacrifice.

Here let us notice, as we pass, that no religion is worth the name that has not its sacrifice through which the worshipper expresses his devotion. And in Christian religion the sacrifice is the consecration of the man and of his life to God's service in Christ. Let us all see to it what sacrifices we offer.

This doctrine, then, of the priesthood and the sacrifice was verified in the case of the Philippians; and, by the same rule, it held true also in the case of Paul himself. He, as little as they, was priest to make atonement. But certainly when we see Paul so cordially yielding himself to the service of God in the gospel, and discharging his work with such willing labour and pains, we see in him one of Christ's priests offering himself to God a living sacrifice. Now is this all? or is something more to be said of Paul? More is to be said; and although the point now in view is not prominent in this passage, it is present as the underlying thought. For the whole sacrifice of holy life rendered by the Philippians, and by his other converts, was, in a sense, the offering of Paul also; not theirs only, but his too. God gave him a standing in the matter, which he, at least, was not to overlook. God's grace, indeed, had wrought the work, and Paul was but an instrument; yet so an instrument, that he had a living and abiding interest in the result. He was not an instrument mechanically interposed, but one whose faith and love151 had wrought to bring the result to pass. To him it had been given to labour and pray, to watch and guide, to spend and to be spent. And when the Apostle saw the lives of many true followers of Christ unfold as the result of his ministry, he could think that God owned his place too in bringing all this tribute to the temple. "God grants me a standing in the service of this offering. The Philippians bring it, each for himself, and it is theirs; but I also bring it, and it is my offering too. God takes it at their hand, but also at my hand, as something which with all my heart I have laboured for and won, and brought to His footstool. I also have my place to present to Christ the sacrifice and service of faith of all these men who are living fruits of my ministry. I have been minister of Christ to these Gentiles, 'ministering the gospel of the grace of God, that the offering up of these Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ'" (Rom. xv. 16, 17).

There remains but one step to be made, to reach the seventeenth verse. Consider the Apostle's heart glowing with the thought that God counted the holy fruits of those believing lives to be sacrifice and service of his, as well as theirs, and accepted it not only from their hands, but from Paul's too. Consider the gladness with which he felt that after all his toil and pains he had this great offering to bring, as his thank-offering to his Lord. And then imagine him hearing a voice which says:152 "Now then, seal your service, crown your offering; be yourself the final element of sacrifice; pour out your life. You have laboured and toiled, spent years and strength, very willingly, and most fruitfully: that is over now; one thing remains; die for the worthy name of Him who died for you." It is this he is contemplating: if I be poured out at the sacrifice and service of your faith; if I am called to go on and to complete the sacrifice and service; if one thing more alone is left for Paul the aged and the prisoner, and that one thing be to lay down the life whose labours are ending; if the life itself is to run out in one final testimony that my whole heart, that all I am and have are Christ's,—shall not I rejoice? will not you rejoice with me? That will be the final identification of my life with your sacrifice and service. It will be the expression of God's accepting the completed gift. It will be the libation that crowns the service. I am not to be used, and then set aside as having no more interest in the results. On the contrary, your Christianity and mine, in the wonderful relation they have to one another, are to pass to God together as one offering. If, after running and labouring, all issues in my life being finally poured out in martyrdom, that, as it were, identifies me finally and inseparably with the sacrifice and service which has filled your lives, and also my life. It becomes one complete offering.

It may give cause for thought to ministers of the gospel that the Apostle should so vitally and vividly153 connect himself with the results of his work. It was no languid, no perfunctory ministry that led up to this high mood. His heart's blood had been in it; the strength and passion of his love to Christ had been poured out and spent on his work and his converts. Therefore he could feel that in some gracious and blessed way the fruits that came were still his—given to him to bring to the altar of the Lord. How well shall it be with the Churches when the ministry of their pastors burns with a flame like this! What an image of the pastoral care is here expressed!

But may not all Christian hearts be stirred to see the devotedness and the love which filled this man's soul? The constraining power of the love of Christ so wrought in him that he triumphed and rejoiced both in bringing and in becoming an offering,—breaking out, as it were, into sacrifice and service, and pouring out his life an offering to the Father and the Son. All hearts may be stirred; for all, perhaps, can imagine such a mood. But how many of us have it as a principle and a passion entering into our own lives?

« Prev Chapter VIII. Working and Shining. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection