“Satan greatly approves of our railing at each other, but God does not” by Charles Spurgeon

“Next, the apostle says, ‘In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.’ (Phil. 2:3) Alas! how far we fall below this standard! How few have attained this grace!

Bunyan beautifully portrays Christiana and Mercy coming up out of the bath of the interpreter’s house. They have had jewels put upon them, and when they are both washed, Mercy saith to Christiana, “How comely and beautiful you look!”

“Nay,” Christiana said, “My sister, I see no beauty in myself, but how lovely you look! I think I never saw such loveliness.”

They were both lovely because they could see other people’s loveliness. Your own spiritual beauty may be very much measured by what you can see in other people.

When you say, “Ah! there are no saints now, it is to be feared that you are not one.” When you complain that love is dead in the Christian church, it must be dead in your heart, or you would not say so. As you think of others, that you are.

Out of your own mouth shall you be condemned. Your corn shall be measured with your own bushel. When we come to admire the good in other people that we have not yet attained ourselves, instead of depreciating other people because they have not something which we have, when we get to that, we shall be evidently approaching nearer to Christ.

If the popular preacher can say, “My beloved brother A has a smaller congregation, and is not a very attractive preacher, yet he visits his flock so carefully, and looks after each individual so well, that I admire him greatly, and must endeavour to imitate him;” and if the man with the small congregation says, “My brother B studies to find out acceptable words, and commend himself to the people of God, and he is very earnest, and is a great soul-winner, I wish I were as earnest; I admire it in him;” why, these interchanges of loving estimate are infinitely more Christlike than for the minister with the large congregation to say, “Brother A has mistaken his calling; he cannot get above a hundred people to hear him: what is the good of his preaching?” and for the lesser light to reply spitefully, “Ah, B’s work is just a flash in the pan—fine words and excitement—there’s nothing in it.”

Satan greatly approves of our railing at each other, but God does not.

Let us learn this morning to esteem others instead of depreciating them; for in proportion as we exhibit a meek and lowly spirit, we shall be working out our own salvation.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Working out What Is Worked in,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 14; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1868), 14: 391–392.

“Emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else” by D.A. Carson

“In the flow of the chapter, then, Paul makes these points, at least in part, to insist that the Philippian believers emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else.

Most who read these pages, I suspect, will not be greatly tempted to boast about their Jewish ancestry and ancient rights of race and religious heritage.

But we may be tempted to brag about still less important things: our wealth, our status, our education, our emotional stability, our families, our political or business successes, our denominational alignments, or even about which version of the Bible we use.

Be careful of people like that.

They tend to regard everyone who is outside their little group as somehow inferior. Somewhere along the way they inadvertently—or even intentionally and maliciously—imagine that faith in Christ Jesus and delight in Him is a little less important than their personal accomplishments.

Instead, look around for those whose constant confidence is Jesus Christ, whose constant boast is Jesus Christ, whose constant delight is Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the center of their worship, the center of their gratitude, the center of their love, the center of their hope.

After that, doubtless we shall sometimes need to argue about relatively peripheral matters. But in the first instance, emulate those whose constant confidence and boast is in Christ Jesus and in nothing else.”

–D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 86.

“Sweet unity” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“Love for our neighbor, humility, and meekness will beget peaceableness. Wherever the first three are to be found, the last will also be found.

Peaceableness is a believer’s quiet and contented disposition of soul, inclining him toward, and causing him to strive for, the maintaining of a relationship with his neighbor characterized by sweet unity— doing so in the way of truth and godliness.”

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 4, Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 4: 91.

“A witness of word and love” by D.A. Carson

“The multiplying witness of the church has two elements to it, according to this passage. The first is proclamation of the message (John 17:20) which is to be believed (17:20, 21, 23).

The second is the public demonstration of the unity for which Jesus prays (17:21, 23), calling to mind the purpose of the ‘new commandment’: ‘All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another’ (13:35).

Both aspects of our witness are essential. The truth of the gospel, announced without the demonstration of the power of the gospel in transformed and loving lives, is arid. It may be beautiful in the way that the badlands can be beautiful; but not much grows there.

On the other hand, the demonstration of love within a believing community does not by itself proclaim the source or cause of that love. Attractive in its own right, like a luxuriant south sea island, nevertheless such love does not call forth disciplined obedience or informed belief, and cannot of itself call others to true faith. It is merely a place to rest.

The multiplying witness Jesus has in mind is both propositional and exemplary, both confessional and demonstrative. It is a witness of word and of love.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 200. Carson is commenting on John 17.

“Service, not self-advancement” by Sinclair B. Ferguson

“When we exercise the gifts which Christ has given us we are really saying to our fellow Christians and others: ‘See how much the Lord Jesus Christ loves you and cares for you; He has sent me to serve you in this way; He is using my hands and feet, my lips and ears, to show His love.’

It is a tragic mistake if we think that the message is: ‘See what a superb Christian I am; see the wonderful gifts I have.’ In the Upper Room, Jesus’ disciples were arguing with one another about which one of them was the greatest and had the best gifts (how like the Corinthians!).

By contrast, Jesus was thinking: How can I show these disciples that gifts are not for ourselves but for others? The outcome, of course, was the washing of the disciples’ feet. Gifts are for service, not self-advancement.

We belong to each other (Rom. 12:5); we need each other to reflect the fullness of the love of Christ (1 Cor. 12:21). We must therefore learn to see our gifts as instruments by which we can love and serve others…

We live in Christian fellowship so that we may serve each other with our gifts and thus promote true spiritual growth in the body of Christ.”

–Sinclair B. Ferguson, Grow in Grace (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1989), 69.