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Strife Versus Love

Strife Versus Love

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Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory ; but in lowliness of
mind let each esteem other better than themselves. PHILIPPIANS ii. 3.

Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory ; but in lowliness of
mind let each esteem other better than themselves. PHILIPPIANS ii. 3.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 11, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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STRIFE VERSUS LOVE BY HUGH BLACK Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory ; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. PHILIPPIAS ii. 3. HITHERTO the Philippian Church had given St. Paul unalloyed gladness. He asks them now to fulfil his joy, to make his cup brim to over flowing. He tells them that the way to do this, to give him a joy as pure as the joy in the pres ence of the angels, is to display in their midst unity, and peace, and love. He demands from them more than personal faith and righteous life. He longs to see the Christian social virtues fully de veloped among them, till they become a true Christian community, of one heart and mind, ruled not by selfishness but by love. Such a society, inspired with such noble motives, where every part found its fit place in humble and devoted service, would have something of the radiant beauty of the life of Christ. In furtherance then of this ideal this dream of the Apostle s if you like he 199 200 EDIBURGH SERMOS says, Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. The word translated strife means not so much personal as party contention, factiousness, setting up one section against another, creating divisions, each seeking to get the better of the other, each
with its party cry, and each dominated by party spirit, one saying as happened in the Corinthian Church, I am of Paul, another I am of Apollos, instead of being all moved by mutual desire for the good of all. Vain-glory of course means the personal vanity which incites a man to fight for his own hand, and push his own claims on all occasions, regardless of other and wider interests. These are the two great social plagues, which keep a community from realising the peace and concord of the Christian ideal, where all are for each and each is for all the undue development of the spirit of faction, and the undue assertion of selfish personal aims. Both are here condemned. Opposed to both, Paul puts lowliness of mind, the humility which is born of love and which has its outcome in generous service. The harmony of a Church may be destroyed by party spirit, sectional strife, seeking not the greatest good of the whole but STRIFE VERSUS LOVE 201 the triumph of a party: or the harmony may be destroyed by personal ambition, when men seek their own selfish aggrandisement, and are inspired by vanity rather than by the love of the brethren. St. Paul asks the Philippians to resist both tempta tions, as sins against Christian charity. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory. There are two great opposing motives in life, two methods of doing work, strife and love, com petition and co-operation; and it is not difficult to say with which of the two rests the hope of the race for a higher civilisation and true religion. The spur of competition is a useful motive within limits, but all social progress has hitherto been got by strengthening and restricting the limits. Civili
sation only begins when co-operation of some sort comes in, when the struggle for existence ceases to be a purely personal one. To make life a kind of free fight, a state of strife where a man s hand is against other men s and theirs against his, is to reintroduce anarchy, and anarchy is an end of all things. o pure individualism can from the nature of the case succeed in the redemption of a society. The world has risen from savagery by putting limits upon strife as the prime principle of living. Pro gress has been achieved through the social bonds, 202 EDIBURGH SERMOS through the family, through community of interests, through patriotism, through union never through disunion, through love never through strife. That is one reason why the future of the race is bound up in the future of Christianity. All true social progress must be along the lines laid down by Christ. aturally we have even in our Christian society constant instances of reversion to type, just because we have not always an intelligent apprecia tion of the spiritual principle at the foundation of the social structure. We fit into our place, and take things for granted, without seeing the sublime religious tendency of it all. Civilisation without religion is merely a veneer. Scratch a Christian and you often get a Pagan. Still we are slowly learning that the noblest life cannot be inspired by strife or vain-glory. We are slowly learning that mere economic theories of supply and demand, and free competition, cannot in them selves ensure either the greatness or the happiness of a people. And surely the Church is learning that only through having the same mind as the Lord Jesus, only through humility, and love, and service, can truth be extended, and the world be

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