Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (44) Relationship to Other Believers
Romans 12:9-16

 

SCRIPTURE (KJV)

  9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

 

COMMENTARY

9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Let love be without dissimulation. The directives in this section are a practical outgrowth of the Sermon on the Mount. The brotherhood of believers is expected to have a mutual love toward one another. Thus the apostle says, Let love be without dissimulation. Dissimulation literally means "without hypocrisy or insincerity." We must genuinely love one another.

The same thing is said about love again in [1]2 Corinthians 6:6  and [2]1 Peter 1:22 ; of faith in [3]1 Timothy 1:5  and [4]2 Timothy 1:5 ; and of wisdom in [5]James 3:17. The hypocrite was originally a stage player, one who acted a part other than that of his true character. The love spoken of here is probably that kind which can be exposed by the charity to be shown to all men. Its genuineness is to be expressed by the fulfillment of the exhortations which follow.

Paul lists some characteristics or duties that every believer should develop in his dealings with other Christians and with the unconverted. Love is #1 on the list, and also #1 in importance. Love should be without hypocrisy. It should not wear a mask, but should be genuine, sincere, and unaffected. Jesus said, “Love God and your neighbor; and, by obedience to the one and acts of benevolence to the other, show that your love is sincere.” Nevertheless, don’t let your love consist of words only, but let it be observable in acts of kindness and in deeds of charity ([6]1 John 3:18, [7]1 Peter 1:22). Genuine benevolence is not that which merely professes attachment, but that which is evidenced by acts of kindness and affection.

The apostle goes on, in the verses that follow, to comment on the other duties of Christians, so that both believers and unbelievers might fulfill their duties, and thereby, contribute to the beauty and order of the church. As we have said, the first characteristic which he specifies is love. This word “love,” as it is used here, evidently refers to benevolence, or to good-will toward all mankind. In Romans 12:10 , he specifies the duty of brotherly love; and there can be no doubt that here he refers to the benevolence which we ought to cherish towards all men, A similar distinction is found in 2 Peter 1:7, "And to brotherly kindness add charity," i.e., benevolence, or good will, and kind feelings to others.

Abhor that which is evil; We should abhor (hate, detest) all forms of evil and cling to everything good. In this setting evil probably means all attitudes and acts of unlove, malice, and hatred. Good, by contrast, means every manifestation of supernatural love.

This clause and those which follow describe the way in which the previous injunction is to be fulfilled; therefore, we should render the verse as follows: “Let love be without hypocrisy, abhorring that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good.” We should not expect God to remove sin from us until we actually hate it and have rooted out of our transformed lives any secret love that we still hold for that which is evil. Dear brother and sister in Christ, sin is a terrible thing; you should hate sin as you would hate that hell to which it leads—hate it with absolute horror. Here are some verses that call for that attitude:

1)  (Psalms 34:14) Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
2) (Psalms 97:10) Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.
3) (2 Timothy 2:19)  Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
4)  (1 Thessalonians 5:22) Abstain from all appearance of evil.

cleave to that which is good.  To hate what is bad without cleaving to that which is good leads to criticism.
The word rendered “cleave to” denotes the act of gluing, or uniting firmly by glue. It is then used to denote a very firm attachment to an object; to be firmly fitted to it. We should think of ourselves as CEMENTED or GLUED to that which is good; having an unalterable attachment to whatever leads to God, and contributes to the welfare of your fellow creatures.
Here, it means, that Christians should be firmly attached to that which is good, and not separate or apart from it. The term good is used here to refer to that which pertains to benevolence—extended to all men, and especially to Christians. Kindness should not be an occasional act; it should be constant, active, determined.

____________verse 9 notes___________________ 

[1](2 Corinthians 6:6) “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned.” The love which was so obvious in the life of the Apostle Paul toward others was not pretended or hypocritical, but genuine. It characterized all his actions. 
[2](1 Peter 1:22) “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
[3](1 Timothy 1:5) Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned
[4](2 Timothy 1:5) When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
[5](James 3:17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

[6](1 John 3:18) “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”  In other words, it should not be a matter of affectionate terms only; neither should it be an expression of what is not true. But it should be manifested in actual deeds of kindness and should be genuine instead of false. 
[7](1 Peter 1:22) Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 

[8] (Romans 12:10)Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” In our relations with those who are in the household of faith, we should demonstrate our love by tender affection, not by cool indifference or routine acceptance.We should prefer to see others honored rather than ourselves. Once a beloved servant of Christ was in a side room with other notables before a meeting. Several had already moved onto the platform before it was his turn. When he appeared at the door, thunderous applause broke out for him. He quickly stepped aside and applauded so that he would not share the honor that he sincerely thought was intended for others.

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; In our relations with those who are in the household of faith, we should demonstrate our love by showing them tender affection, not by cool indifference or routine acceptance. We must have a tender regard for those who are our brothers in the Lord. Brotherly love (Gr. philadelphia) is a love for all members of the local assembly, regardless of their heritage or financial status.

William Penn, one of those early American political heroes, made a treaty with the Indians in North America, and purchased from them a large woody tract, which he called Pennsylvania, after his own name. He built a city on it, and populated it with Christians of his own denomination, and called the city PHILADELPHIA; a designation which it bore then with strict respectability: and still today it bears the name.

BE KINDLY AFFECTIONED. This phrase occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It stands for tender affection, such as that which exists between parents and children, and which almost all creatures manifest towards their young; and it means, that Christians should have similar feelings towards each other, as they do for family. The Syriac renders this verse, "Love your brethren, and love one another." No relationship of life can be left outside the sphere of Christian responsibility. So Peter gives four crisp commands, concerning our relationship with God and other believers: Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king (1 Peter 2:17). The four commands are:
1. Honor all people. We cannot always honor their words or their behavior, but we can remember that every single life is of more value than the entire world. We can recognize that every person was made in the image and likeness of God. We must never forget that the Lord Jesus bled and died for even the most unworthy.
2. Love the brotherhood. We are to love all men, but we are especially obligated to love the members of our spiritual family. This is a love like God’s love for us. It is utterly undeserved, it goes out to the loveless, it looks for no reward, and it is stronger than death.
3. Fear God. We fear Him when we reverence Him as the supreme Lord. Glorifying Him then becomes our number one priority. We fear doing anything that would displease Him and we fear misrepresenting Him before men.
4. Honor the king. Peter returns to the subject of human rulers for a final reminder. We are to respect our rulers as officials appointed by God for the maintenance of an ordered society. This means we must pay “taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear” (Romans 13:7). Generally speaking, the Christian can live under any form of government. The only time he should disobey is when he is ordered to compromise his loyalty or obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Brotherly love is often presented in the New Testament as a duty, and our Savior intended that it would be a badge of discipleship: John 13:34,35 is one such place: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Some other places where love for the brethren is advised are the following:
1) John 15:12, 17. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you…These things I command you, that ye love one another.
2) Ephesians 5:2. And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.
3) 1 Thessalonians 4:9. But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
4) 1 Peter 1:22. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
5) 1 John 2:10. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
6) 1 John 3:11,23. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another… And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
7) 1 John 4:20,21. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also
.

It is clear that Paul does not simply enjoin brotherly love, but he adds that it should be kindly affectioned. It should be with the tenderness which characterizes the most endearing natural relationship. This he expresses by the words brotherly love, blending love with natural affection, "Love a brother Christian with the affection of a natural brother."

in honour preferring one another;
Since the root of all “egotism” is taken away by the basis of our salvation, which is grace, therefore we must not count ourselves better than our brother [9\(Philippians 2:3 ). We need a devalued opinion of our own worth before the Lord, but a greatly inflated opinion of what He can do through a devalued person who is yielded to Him.

This passage can only be understood as an encouragement to humility; and that is the interpretation generally given to it. The emphasis is that in all acts of respect and kindness we should take the lead. Instead of waiting for others to honor us, we should take the lead in the showing of respect. It can be done if we consider all our brethren to be more worthy than we are; and let neither grief nor envy affect our mind when we see another person honored, while we are neglected. This is a hard lesson, and very few persons learn it thoroughly. Unfortunately, if we wish to see our brethren honored, it is with the secret condition in our own minds that we will be honored more than they. We have no objection to the elevation of others, providing we are a level higher than they are.

IN HONOUR. In showing or manifesting respect or honor. Not in seeking honor, or striving after respect, but in showing it to one another.

PREFERRING ONE ANOTHER. The word preferring means going before, leading, setting an example. Thus in showing mutual respect and honor, they were to strive to excel; not to see which could obtain the most honor, but which could confer the most, or manifest the most respect. Consider these words of the fisherman—“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).  If there were no other reason for being humble, this would be enough: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Peter is quoting from the Greek version of Proverbs 3:34— Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.)

Thus they were to show to each other all the respect which was due in the various relations of life; children to show proper respect to parents, parents to children, and employees to their employers etc.; and all are to strive, by acts of kindness, to promote the happiness of the Christian community. How different this is from the spirit of the world; the spirit which seeks to attract all others to give honor to us.

If we could do only this one thing; that is, to think more highly of others than we do ourselves, it would put an end at once to a lot of the envy, and ambition, and heart-ache, and dissatisfaction of the world. It would produce contentment, harmony, love, and order in the community; and put a halt to the progress of crime, and annihilate the evils of fighting, and argument, and hatred.
We should prefer to see others honored rather than ourselves.

________________verse 10 notes_____________________

[9](Philippians 2:3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

 

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

These three exhortations are to be connected closely. The first might be rendered “not flagging in zeal.” The zeal (enthusiasm) is in the realm of the spirit, resembling that which is guided by the Holy Spirit. If constant zeal and fervency of spirit are to characterize service for the Lord, zeal must be controlled by good sense and exercised not for self-interest but for Christ.

Devotion to the Lord, then, is the inspiring motive. Moffatt’s colorful translation of this verse is: “Never let your zeal flag, maintain the spiritual glow, serve the Lord.” Here we are reminded of the words of Jeremiah 48:10: “A curse on him who is slack in doing the LORD’S work!” (NEB).

’Tis not for man to trifle; life is brief
And sin is here.
Our age is but the falling of a leaf,
A dropping tear.
We have not time to sport away the hours;
All must be earnest in a world like ours.
—Horatius Bonar

Not slothful in business  The opposite of “slothful” is “diligent” (industrious, hard-working). The instruction we are given is that we should be busy at our employment. It does not refer to any particular occupation, but is used, in a general sense, to denote any labor which we may have to do; or is a directive to be faithful and industrious when we are on the job and working for a paycheck. I like what I have heard on occasion and I have told others the same thing: “do your work like Jesus signs your paycheck.” Someone’s concept of Christianity may be based on what they see of your life, which includes your job performance. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23) Christians are to throw their souls into their work, and labor cheerfully and diligently, as if they are working for the Lord. This is the real test of Christian service.

The tendency of the Christian religion is to promote diligence and productivity.
1) It teaches the value of time.
2) Presents numerous and important things to be done.
3) It inclines men to be conscientious in the ways they spend their time.
4) And it takes the mind off of those pleasures and leisure activities which generate and promote laziness.
The Lord Jesus was constantly working at filling up the great duties of his life; and the effects of his religion has been to promote productiveness wherever it has spread, both among nations and individuals. An idle man and a Christian are names which do not harmonize. Every Christian has enough to do to occupy all his time; and anyone whose life is spent in comfort, and in doing nothing, has reason to question his salvation.  God has assigned us much to accomplish; and he will hold us accountable for the faithful performance of it. Compare the following verses:
a.  John 5:17:  “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,”
b. John 9:14: “And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.”
c. 1 Thessalonians 4:11: “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”
d. 2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat…Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”

All that would be necessary to transform lazy men into thoughtful and useful men, would be to give to them the spirit of the Christian religion. See the example of Paul: “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:34,35.

The local church must be run in a business like fashion, just like any secular corporation. We do not dare to be sluggish or unenthusiastic about the business of the church.

fervent in spirit;  The edict to be fervent in spirit is not a reference to how we should perform on the job; it refers rather to religious activity: “As to activity or diligence, do not grow weary or be indolent; on the contrary, be fervent in spirit.” The word spirit is understood as the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 18:25, it is said of Apollos, “being fervent in spirit (i.e., zealous) he spake and taught diligently." Instead of being inactive, we should be zealous or aflame with the Spirit of God. Not only must we serve the Lord as a slave would serve his master, but we must do so in an energetic and enthusiastic manner. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastics 9:10). Whatever the task, man must see it as a gift from the Lord and enter into its challenge with an awareness that He will hold us accountable for what we do with His provisions.
• “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work” (Ecclesiastics 3:17).
• “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they” (Ecclesiastics 5:8).
• “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (Ecclesiastics 11:9).
•  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.  (Ecclesiastics 12:14).

FERVENT. This word is usually applied to water, or to metals which have been heated to the temperature where they bubble, or boil. And so, it is used to denote ardor (passion), intensity, or, intense zeal; Acts 18:25— This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. Dr. Luke described this man as being fervent in the spirit. This is an interesting statement since we are told in chapter 19 that his followers, at the time, are unaware of the Holy Spirit. That bit of information provides us insight into the Old Testament believers who, though they were regenerated and probably indwelt by the Holy Spirit, did not have a full understanding of the nature of His work in them.

The apostle Paul was a great example of one who can be said to be "fervent" in how he applies his ministry: Acts 20:34, 35—Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. It was not the hope of financial gain that motivated him in the work of the Lord. He was essentially a poor man, as far as material things were concerned, but he was rich toward God. Holding out his hands before them, he could remind them that those hands had labored in order to provide for the necessities of life, both for himself and for those who were with him. But he went beyond that also. He labored as a tentmaker in order that he might have means to help the weak—those physically ill or weak as far as moral scruples are concerned, or weak in spiritual matters. Those who minister God’s word should remember this, and seek in all things the good of others, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, “... It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

serving the Lord;  Think of yourselves as the servants of the Lord. That idea has grown out of the religious activity of those who are “fervent in spirit.” They were to be diligent and passionate, and in doing so were to regard themselves as serving the Lord, or to do it in obedience to the command of God, and to promote his glory. The aptness of this caution may be easily seen.
1) The tendency of worldly employment is to take away our love for God.
2) Men are prone to forget God when deeply engaged in their worldly employment. It is good to recall their attention to Him.
3) When doing our jobs in an honorable way, we are serving God. He has arranged the order of things in this life to promote employment. He has made industriousness essential to happiness and success; and hence to be industrious, and with the proper motives, is to be regarded as the acceptable service of God.
4) He has required that all such employments should be conducted with reference to his will and to his honor; [10](1 Peter 4:11 ). The meaning of the whole verse is that Christians should be industrious, should be ardently engaged in some lawful employment, and that they should pursue it with reference to the will of God, in obedience to his commands, and to his glory.
Serving the Lord expresses the motive from which zeal and diligence should proceed. Ephesians 6:5-8: “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” Note especially the expressions as unto Christ, as the servants of Christ, as to the Lord, etc.; and then read Colossians 3:22, 23. “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” The Spirit of God addresses servants, bondservants, and slaves in these passages. It is interesting to note the amount of space devoted in the New Testament to slaves. This is significant, because it shows that no matter how low a person’s social status may be, he still can attain the very highest in the Christian life through faithfulness to the word of God. Perhaps it also reflects the foreknowledge of God that most Christian people would occupy places of service rather than positions of authority. For instance, there is very little instruction in the New Testament that refers to rulers of nations, but there is plenty of advice for those who devote their lives to the service of others. Slaves in the days of Paul usually received very little consideration, and no doubt it struck the early Christians as unusual that so much attention was given to them in these Letters. But it shows how the grace of God reaches down to men, no matter how menial their position might be. C. H. Mackintosh notes: “The slave is not shut out from the service of God. By simply doing his duty in the sight of God, he can adorn the doctrine and bring glory to God.”

It is interesting that there is no express prohibition against slavery in the New Testament. The gospel does not overthrow social institutions by revolution. However, wherever the gospel has gone, slavery has been uprooted and eliminated. This does not mean that these instructions are therefore without meaning for us. All that is said here may very well be applied to employees and employers.

Whatever is done should be done heartily (literally “from the soul”) as to the Lord and not to men. In every form of Christian service as well as in every sphere of life, there are many tasks which people find obnoxious. Needless to say, we try to avoid such work. But this passage teaches us the very important lesson that the humblest service can be glorified and dignified by doing it for the Lord. In this sense, there is no difference between secular and sacred work. All is sacred. Rewards in heaven will not be for prominence or apparent successes; they will not be for talents or opportunities; but rather for faithfulness. Thus obscure persons will fare very well in that day if they have carried out their duties faithfully as to the Lord.

_______________verse 11 notes___________________

[10](1 Peter 4:11) If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

No matter what our present circumstances may be, we can and should rejoice in our hope, for we have an expectation that is sure to take place —the coming of our Savior, the redemption of our bodies, and our eternal glory. We are exhorted to be patient in tribulation—that is, to bear up bravely under it. Such all-conquering endurance is the one thing which can turn the misery we experience in life into glory. We should continue steadfastly in prayer. It is in prayer that the work is done and victories are won. Prayer brings power to our lives and peace to our hearts. When we pray in the Name of the Lord Jesus, we come the closest to omnipotence that it is possible for mortal man to come. Therefore we do ourselves a great disservice when we neglect to pray.

These three exhortations are given to the faithful to urge or persuade them to take advantage of their sources of comfort and support. They are closely associated with each other—perseverance in prayer produces joy in hope and patience in tribulation. Prayer, or communion with God, is essential as a controlling influence in our joy and in our patience under trial. Otherwise joy may be a mere feeling of excitement or enthusiasm and patience nothing more than indifference.

Rejoicing in hope;
Rejoicing in the hope of eternal life and glory, which the gospel produces. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;” (Romans 5:2-3). We enjoy access into an indescribable position of favor with God. We are accepted in the Beloved One; therefore we are as near and dear to God as His own Beloved Son. The Father extends the golden scepter to us and welcomes us as sons, not strangers. This grace, or standing in favor, embraces every aspect of our position before God, a position that is as perfect and permanent as Christ’s because we are in Him.

As if that were not enough, we also rejoice in hope of the glory of God. This means that we joyfully look forward to the time when we will not only gaze on the splendor of God, but will ourselves be manifested in glory (see [11]John 17:22; [12]Colossians. 3:4). We cannot comprehend the full significance of that hope here on earth, nor will we get over the wonder of it through all eternity.

patient in tribulation;  When afflicted, patiently enduring all that may transpire. Christians may be enabled to do this by the sustaining influence of their hope of future glory; of being admitted to that world where there shall be no more death, and where all tears shall be wiped away from their eyes ([13]Revelation 21:4, [14]7:17 ). This hope of salvation is the most effectual means of producing patience under present afflictions; for if we feel “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” it will not be difficult to bear them patiently.

It is one of the delightful ironies of the Christian faith that joy can coexist with affliction; the joy is not so much in their present discomforts as in their eventual results (see [15]Heb. 12:1). The opposite of joy is sin, not suffering. One of the by-products of tribulation is that it produces perseverance or steadfastness. We could never develop perseverance if our lives were trouble-free.
Remember that what you suffer as Christians you suffer for Christ's sake; and it is to his honor, and the honor of your Christian profession, that you suffer it with a settled mind.

continuing instant in prayer;  That is to say, be persevering in prayer. (See [16]Luke 18:1). The meaning of this instruction is that in order to exercise the duties of the Christian life, and especially to maintain a joyful hope, and to be sustained in the midst of afflictions, it is necessary to relish a spirit of prayer, and to live near to God. How often should a Christian pray?  The Scriptures do not tell us. We are told that David prayed seven times a day: “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments” (Psalms 119:164), and that Daniel was accustomed to pray three times a day: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10). The Bible mentions repeated instances of our Savior praying; and the same can be said of the apostles. The following rules, perhaps, may guide us in our personal praying:
1) Every Christian should have some time allotted for this service, and some place where he may be alone with God.
2) It is not easy, perhaps not possible, to maintain a life of piety without regular habits of secret devotions.
3) The morning, when we have experienced God's protecting care, when the mind is fresh, and the thoughts are clear and unoccupied with the world, when we go forth to the duties, trials, and temptations of the day; and the evening, when we have again experienced his goodness, and are about to commit ourselves to his protecting care, and when we need his pardoning mercy for the errors and follies of the day, seem to be times which commend themselves to be appropriate seasons for private devotion.
4) Every person will also find other times when private prayer will be needful, and when he will be prone to do it. In affliction, in bewilderment, in moments of despondency, in danger, and want, in disappointment, and in the loss of friends, we shall feel the need of drawing near to God, and of pouring out the heart before him.
5) Besides this, every Christian is probably conscious of times when he feels peculiarly inclined to pray; he feels just like praying; he has a spirit of supplication; and nothing but prayer will meet the instinctive desires of his heart. We are often conscious of an earnest desire to see and converse with an absent friend, to have communion with those we love; and we consider such fellowship as among the happiest moments of life. That is how it is with the Christian. He may have an earnest desire to have communion with God; his heart pants for it; and he cannot resist the inclination to seek him, and pour out his desires before him. Read about the feelings expressed by David in Psalms 42:1, 2, "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" Comp. Psalms 63:1. Such seasons should be improved; they are the "spring-times" of our piety; and we should expand every sail, that we may be "filled with all the fulness of God."
6) In addition to all this, Christians may be in the habit of praying to God without the formality of secrecy. God looks upon the heart; and the heart may pour forth its secret desires to Him even when in business, when conversing with a friend, when walking, when alone, and when in society. Thus the Christian may live a life of prayer; and it shall be one of the characteristics of his life that he prays! By this he shall be known; and in this he shall learn the way to possess peace in religion. 

 

"In every joy that crowns my days,
In every pain I bear,
My heart shall find delight in praise,
Or seek relief in prayer.

"When gladness wings my favour'd hour,
Thy love my thoughts shall fill;
Resigned when storms of sorrow lower,
My soul shall meet thy will.

"My lifted eye, without a tear,
The gathering storm shall see;
My steadfast heart shall know no fear:
That heart shall rest on thee."

 

_____________________verse 11 notes__________________________

[11](John 17:22) “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” The Lord prayed for unity in glory. This looks forward to the time when saints will receive their glorified bodies. “The glory which You gave Me” is the glory of resurrection and ascension. We do not have this glory yet. It has been given to us as far as the purposes of God are concerned, but we will not receive it until the Savior returns to take us to heaven. It will be manifested to the world when Christ returns to set up His kingdom on earth. At that time, the world will realize the vital unity between the Father and the Son, and the Son and His people, and will believe (too late) that Jesus was the Sent One from God.
[12](Colossians 3:4) “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” The apostle looks on to Christ’s coming again. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. At the present time we are raised with Him and enjoying a life that is not seen or understood by men. But the day is coming when the Lord Jesus will return for His saints. Then we will appear with Him in glory. Men will understand us then and realize why we behaved as we did. 
[13](Revelation 21:4) “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  The expression “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” does not mean that there will be tears in heaven. It is a poetic way of saying that there will not be! Neither will there be death, nor sorrow, nor crying. For God’s people, these will be forever ended. The One who sits on the throne will make all things new. His words are true and faithful, and will surely come to pass. 
[14](Revelation 7:17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. 
[15](Hebrews 12:11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
[16](Luke 18:1) And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;


13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Distributing to the necessity of saints;  Needy saints, Christians, or the friends of God, are everywhere—the unemployed, those who have been drained by medical bills, forgotten preachers and missionaries in obscure places, and senior citizens whose resources have dwindled. True Christ-likeness means sharing with those who are in need. “Never grudging a meal or a bed to those who need them.

Those who are holy or consecrated to God are called saints. This duty of rendering aid to Christians, in particular, does not interfere with the general love of mankind. The law of the New Testament is, "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith"(Galatians 6:10). The Christian, if truth be told, should love all mankind, and do good for them as far as it may be in his power to do so:
• Matthew 5:43, 44. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
• Titus 3:8. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
• 1 Timothy 6:18. That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
• Hebrews 13:16. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

But he is to show particular interest in the welfare of his brethren, and to see that the poor members of the church are provided for; because:
1) They are our brethren; they are of the same family; they are attached to the same Lord; and by doing good to them we are showing love to Christ. (See [17]Matthew 25:40; [18]Mark 9:41).
2) They are left especially to the care of the church; and if the church neglects them, we may be sure the world will also, (See [19]Matthew 26:11). Christians, especially in the time of the apostles, had reason to expect little compassion from the men of the world. They were persecuted and oppressed; their businesses were boycotted, perhaps they would be fired from their job, by their enemies: and therefore, it was necessary for their brethren to aid them; in fact, it was a life-or-death matter for some. To a certain extent it is always true, that the world is reluctant to aid the friends of God; and hence the poor followers of Christ are in a peculiar manner thrown on the benevolence of the church.
3) It is not improbable that there might be a particular reason at that time for bringing this to the attention of the Romans. It was a time of persecution, and perhaps of extensive distress. In the days of Claudius, (about A.D. 50,) there was a famine in Judea which produced great distress, and many of the poor and oppressed might have fled.

given to hospitality.  Hospitality is a lost art. Small homes and apartments are used as excuses for not receiving Christians who are passing through. Perhaps we do not want to face the added work and inconvenience. But we forget that when we entertain God’s children, it is the same as if we were entertaining the Lord Himself. Our homes should be like the home in Bethany, where Jesus loved to be. 

We are earnestly to seek opportunities for hospitality rather than to wait for an occasion to rise. “Let brotherly love continue…But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:1, 16). We need a genuine concern for those who are poor and needy and our hospitality must extend to them as automatically as Abraham’s extended to the three strangers. “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant” (Gen 18:2–3).

Hospitality was a very necessary virtue in ancient times, when houses of public accommodation were exceedingly scarce. This exhortation might have for its object the apostles, who were all itinerants; and in many cases the Christians, flying before the face of persecution. This virtue is highly becoming in all Christians, and especially in all Christian ministers, who have the means of relieving a brother in distress, or of succoring the poor wherever he may find them. But providing for strangers in distress is the proper meaning of the term; and to be among the first to do this is the spirit of the duty.

This expression means that they should readily and cheerfully welcome and assist strangers. This is a duty which is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures.
• Hebrews 13:2, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
• 1 Peter 4:9, "Use hospitality one to another without grudging."
• Paul makes this especially the duty of a Christian bishop: 1 Timothy 3:2, "A bishop then must-be given to hospitality;"
• Titus 1:8, “But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate”
• Hospitality was taught by the Savior, and its exercise commanded: Matthew 10:40, 42, “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me…And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
• The lack of hospitality is one of the charges which the Judge of mankind will allege against the wicked, and on which he will condemn them: Matthew 25:43, "I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”
•  It is especially commended to us by the example of Abraham, (Genesis 18:1-8,) and of Lot, (Genesis 19:1, 2,) who received angels unawares. It was one of the virtues on which Job commended himself, and which he had not failed to practice. "If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof” (Job 31:16, 17). Job denies having exploited the poor, widows, fatherless, or any other sort of disadvantaged person. To the contrary, he asserts he has shared his goods and food with them. He also acknowledges that all men will be judged by God concerning this very matter, as well as other sins (vss. 23, 28).
• In the time of our Savior, evidently it was practiced in the most open and frank manner. "And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give…And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you…But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways …” (Luke 10:7-10).
The duty of hospitality is still binding on Christians and, for that matter, on all men. The law of Christ has not been repealed. The customs of society have changed; and one evidence of that is the fact that inns, motels and hotels are now provided for the traveler in all Christian countries. Still this does not lessen the obligations to show hospitality. There is a feeling of brotherhood and kindness towards others, when such hospitality is shown. It unites society, creates new bonds of interest and affection, to show kindness to the stranger and to the poor. To what extent this is to be done, is one of those questions which are to be left to every man's conscience. No rule can be given on the subject. Many men do not have the means to be significantly hospitable; and many are not placed in situations that require it. No rules could be given that would be applicable to all cases; and consequently the Bible has left out any general directions, but has furnished examples of where it was exercised, and then has left every man to act with the knowledge that he will answer for it to God. See Matthew 25:34-46.

 

__________________verse 13 notes_____________________

[17](Matthew 25:40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
[18](Mark 9:41) For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
[19](Matthew 26:11) For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

 


14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

We are called on to show kindness toward our persecutors instead of trying to repay them in kind. It requires the presence of the Holy Spirit to repay unkindness and injury with a courtesy. The natural response is to curse and retaliate. The teachings in this section are to some extent parallel to those in the Sermon on the Mount, which was designed by the Lord to be applicable in the present age as well as in the time when He was on earth. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
The word rendered to bless, signifies both to pray for good to come to someone, and to do good. Here, from the context, the former meaning is to be preferred, as it is opposed to cursing, which signifies to call down evil on anyone. The command therefore is, that, so far from wishing or praying that evil may overtake our persecutors and enemies, we must sincerely desire and pray for their good. It is not sufficient to avoid returning evil for evil, or even to get rid of vindictive feelings; we must be able to sincerely desire their happiness. How hard this is for corrupt human nature; everyone who is acquainted with his own heart knows this well. Yet this is the standard of Christian temper and character exhibited in the Scriptures.

Bless them which persecute you:  This is taken from the Sermon on the Mount [20](Matthew 5:44 ), which, from the allusions made to it, seems to have been the storehouse of Christian morality among the churches.

Speak well of them or pray for them that speak bad words, who make awful oaths and cussing against you. Bless them, pray for them, and on no account curse them, whatever the provocation may be. Have the loving, forgiving mind that was in your Lord. “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:28).

bless, and curse not.  Bless only; or continue to bless, however long or aggravated the injury may be. Do not be provoked to anger, or to cursing, by any injury, persecution, or insult. This is one of the most difficult duties of the Christian religion; and it is a duty which nothing else but religion will enable men to perform. To curse means to dedicate to destruction. Where there is power to do it, it implies the destruction of the object. Thus the fig-tree that was cursed by the Savior soon withered away: “And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away” (Mark 11:21). Thus those whom God curses will certainly be destroyed: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Where there is not enough power to do it, to curse implies the invoking of the aid of God to devote to destruction. Hence it means, to curse; to call down a curse from God to rest on others; to pray that God would destroy them. In a larger sense still, it means to abuse by reproachful words; to slander; or to express one's self in a violent, profane, and outrageous manner. That is what it appears to mean in this passage.

_________________________verse 14 notes_______________________________

[20](Matthew 5:44) “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” How does one love an enemy? Notice that the passage makes it clear that he does not have to attempt to work up an artificial feeling of love. The quality of love commanded here is expressed by giving. Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute you. Loving an enemy involves doing good toward that enemy in order to win him over to the cause that you represent. The message of the kingdom, therefore, is that we will win over those who oppose us more readily with love than with hatred. It is not in the divisiveness of contention that we win our greatest converts, but in the application of the heart of the gospel and the love of Christ.

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Here the exhortations shift from returning kindness for unkindness, to the call for sympathy both in joy and sorrow: not merely an absence of selfish interest or disinterestedness, but a spirit of sharing in the feelings of others. While it is in one sense easier to weep with those that weep than to rejoice with those that rejoice, it is natural to sympathize with sorrow, but it requires a gracious soul to rejoice in the joy of others. Empathy is the capacity for sharing indirectly the feelings and emotions of others. Our tendency is to be jealous when others rejoice, and to pass by when they mourn. God’s way is to enter into the joys and sorrows of those around us. This practice can be found in the life of Christ, which proves that this is not just a [21]Stoic  philosophy. Jesus Christ rejoiced at the marriage feast with those who rejoiced (See John 2:1–12) and wept at the graveside of Lazarus with those who wept (See John 11:1–44). We need to be so intimately involved with the lives of other believers that we know about their joys and their sorrows, and can identify with each.

This command grows out of the doctrine stated in [22]Romans 12:4, 5  that the church is one; that it has one interest; and therefore that there should be common sympathy in its joys and sorrows. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). In this way happiness diffuses and multiplies itself. It becomes expanded over the face of the whole society; and the union of the Christian body tends to enlarge the sphere of happiness, and to prolong the joy conferred by religion. God has bound the family of man together by these sympathies, and it is one of the happiest of all devices to perpetuate and extend human enjoyments.

One of the greatest commands given in all the word of God is directed to believers; we are to love one another, and then to love others (unbelievers) like we love ourselves. So, we are not to pick and choose who we love. Love is a source of power—love produces not only the forgiveness of enemies, but a general sympathy in the joys and sorrows of our fellow men, and especially of our fellow Christians. The gospel requires that we should feel and act under the impression that all men are brethren; that we have a common nature, a common Father, and a common destiny. How lovely is genuine sympathy! How much like Christ is the man who feels the sorrows and joys of others, as though they were his own!

Rejoice with them that do rejoice,  Take a lively interest in the prosperity of others. Let it be a matter of rejoicing to you when you hear of the health, prosperity, or happiness of any brother. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). There should be no hard-feelings that might produce splits in the body. Divisions and alienation of feelings should find no place in the body of Christ. Rather, the members should pray for the welfare of all other members. The body is one and it has a common life and consciousness, therefore, when one member suffers, all the members suffer. Likewise, if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with him.

and weep with them that weep. What a beautiful spirit of sympathy with the joys and sorrows of others is discernible here! But it is only one charming phase of the unselfish character which belongs to all living Christianity. What a world this would be if this would become its reigning spirit! Of the two, however, it is easier to sympathize with another's sorrows than his joys, because in the one case he needs us; in the other he does not.

Brethren, labor to acquire a compassionate or sympathizing mind. Let your heart feel for the distressed; enter into their sorrows, and bear a part of their burdens. It is a fact, attested to by our common experience, that a man may receive into his own affectionate feelings a measure of the distress of his friend by having sympathy for his friend, and that his friend will find that he is relieved in the same proportion as the other has entered into his griefs.

At the grave of Lazarus our Savior expressed his grief in a most tender and touching manner. The aim of this verse is to produce mutual kindness and affection, and to divide our sorrows among the sympathies of our friends. Nothing is so well fitted to do this as the sympathy of those we love. All who are afflicted know how much it diminishes the effect of sorrow to see others sympathizing with them, and especially those who manifest the sympathies of the Christian spirit. How sad it would be if in our suffering world, there was no one who regarded our griefs with interest or with tears! If every sufferer were left to bear his sorrows without pity and alone! And if all the ties of human sympathy were rudely cut at once and men were left to suffer in solitude, and without a friend! It may be added, that it is the special duty of Christians to sympathize in each other's griefs,
because their Savior set them the example;
because they belong to the same family;
because they are subject to similar trials and afflictions; and
because they cannot expect the sympathy of a cold and unfeeling world
.

_________________verse 15 notes_______________________

[21](Stoic) Ancient philosophy: a member of an ancient Greek school of philosophy that asserted that happiness can only be achieved by accepting life's ups and downs as the products of unalterable destiny. The school was founded around 308 by Zeno.
[22](Romans 12:4-5) “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Paul uses the metaphor of the body to indicate that the life of humility must be lived in relationship to other believers. Each of us must recognize that we possess a special gift (Gr charisma) as an outgrowth of our salvation and the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. There are many members in the body of Christ, and each of us, regardless of how humble our station in life or how deficient in education or how expert we may be, has a gift from God to contribute to the whole body. In His sovereignty, God has just the proper place for each of us.

 


16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Be of the same mind one toward another.  In the original text this goes closely with what has preceded it and is, literally, “minding the same thing one toward another.” Thus it extends the thought of rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. This one-mindedness results from realizing that we have a common nature; it is also a manifestation of the spirit of Christ. His first miracle was performed in rejoicing with them that rejoice and His greatest miracle while weeping with those that wept. The pride and ambition which cause us to set our mind on high things is a hindrance to the unity which expresses itself in practical sympathy. Although we may not always see eye to eye with other believers, nevertheless we must preserve the unity of belief and practice that which characterized the early church.

To be of the same mind toward one another does not mean that we must see alike on nonessential matters; it is not so much uniformity of mind as it is harmony of relationships. Let us live in a state of continual harmony and agreement, and pray for others to receive the same good which you desire for yourselves.

This part has been given various interpretations.
• Chrysostom. Enter into each other's circumstances, in order to see how you would yourself feel.
• Stuart. Be agreed in your opinions and views.
• Stuart. Be united or agreed with each other.
• A literal translation of the Greek will give a somewhat different sense, but one evidently correct. "Think of, that is, regard, or seek after the same thing for each other; that is, what you regard or seek for yourself, seek also for your brethren. Do not have divided interests; do not be pursuing different ends and aims; do not indulge counter plans and purposes; and do not seek honors or offices, for yourself, which you do not seek for your brethren; so that you may still regard yourselves as brethren on the same level, and aim at the same object."
• Philippians 2:2.  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
• 2 Corinthians 13:11. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
• The Syriac has correctly rendered the passage: "And what you think concerning yourselves, the same also think concerning your brethren; neither think with an elevated or ambitious mind, but accommodate yourselves to those who are of humbler condition."
•  1 Peter 3:8. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

 Mind not high things,  When we are told to Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate, the apostle brings us right back to one of the basics of Christianity; humility. The believer who is concerned about exhibiting his transformation in an attitude of love for the brethren will not attempt to cultivate friendships only among the attractive or wealthy of the church, but will especially befriend those who are not befriended by others. We should avoid any trace of snobbishness and should be as outgoing toward humble, lowly folk as we are toward those of wealth and position.

The high things are those upon which pride sets itself. They are not the spiritually high things which are from above, but those things which foster selfishness and self-esteem.

We should not be ambitious; do not seek for the endorsement of men; do not court the rich or the powerful; do not pass by the poor man so that you can cozy up to the great man; do not put on titles or worldly distinctions; much less sacrifice your conscience for them. The attachment to high things and high men is the shortcoming of little, shallow minds. However, it makes a case for one important fact, that such persons are aware that they are of no worth and of no consequence in THEMSELVES, and they seek to make themselves noticeable and to gain a little credit by their endeavors to associate themselves with men of status and wealth.

Christians were commonly from the poorer ranks, and they were to seek their companions and joys there, and not to aspire to the society of the great and the rich. “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…” (Jeremiah 45:5). “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). What an important reminder this is in our materialistic age. Many seek after things, but all find that they do not satisfy. Jesus counselled, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

but condescend to men of low estate.  This means that Christians should seek objects of interest and companionship not among the great, the rich, and the noble, but among the humble and the obscure. They should do it because Jesus did it; because His Christians are most commonly found among those who live a humble life; because Christianity leads to charity, rather than to pride and a liking for putting on a show; and because of the negative influence on the mind produced by an attempt to imitate the great, to seek acceptance into the society of the rich, and to mingle with them at elaborate parties.

Live your life with as little noise and show as possible. Let the poor, godly man be your chief companion; and learn from his humility and piety to be humble and godly. The term which we translate condescend, signifies to be led, carried, or dragged away to prison with another; and points out the state in which the primitive Christians were despised and rejected by men, and often led away to prison and death. False or man-pleasing professors would endeavor to escape all this disgrace and danger by gaining the favor of the great, the worldly, and the irreligious. Throughout the life of the Church, there have been persons who have replaced their desire for spiritual things with a worldly spirit, have tried to turn away from the reproach of the cross by rejecting the company of godly men and women, slandering the Christian way of life, and perhaps sitting down in the chair of the scorner with apostates like themselves. And yet, as strange as it seems, these same men will keep up a form of godliness, because a decent outside is often necessary to enable them to secure the object of their ambition.

"Condescend" means to be contented with modest, ordinary things.  The most helpful influences over us come from things that are lowly, and the effect of such things is harmony and peace. Some look at this phrase like it is a command that we should be united; feeling towards others as we would have them feel towards us.

Be not wise in your own conceits.  Again, the apostle warns against a believer being wise in his own opinion—he uses this quotation from Proverbs 3:7: “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” The realization that we have nothing that we did not receive should keep us from an inflated ego. Being wise in our own conceits is one of the great hindrances to harmony among the saints. Those who suffer with this disease have a puffed up opinion of their own importance.

We were given this warning in the previous chapter: "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight" (Romans 11:25). The meaning is, do not trust in the conceit of your own superior skill and understanding, and refuse to listen to the counsel of others. The tendency of religion is to produce a low estimate of our own importance and accomplishments. No species of pride is more insidious or more injurious than the pride of intellect, or a fancied superiority to those around us, which leads to a contempt of their opinions, and a confident reliance upon ourselves. The temperament which the gospel requires is that of a little child, docile, self-effacing, and humble; “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21).

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