The Apostolic Only.
“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” – Php_1:27.
Only! Was this all? Yes, all, in the sense of its being one chief, main thing; pre-eminent above others. As he says for himself elsewhere, ‘This one thing I do;’ so here, he says to them, Only! Ah, what stress he lays upon a godly life, a consistent walk! Whatever be your earthly lot, be it joy or sorrow; whatever your gifts, your privileges, your enemies, or your friends-keep this in special remembrance, as if it were the one thing in life; be men of one idea, one desire, one purpose-live a holy life! How earnestly does the apostle inculcate this!
The word ‘conversation’ is a peculiar one. It does not mean speech or intercourse; it refers to our general deportment or manner of life as citizens-our citizen-life. We have a double citizenship; earthly and heavenly. We are still men in the flesh, citizens of earthly cities; and in the living of this citizen-life, we must not forget whose we are;-we must remember the gospel, and Him whose gospel it is. Our heavenly citizenship we must ever keep in mind, and walk worthy of it; for we are citizens of no mean city-of the joyous city. Let our whole life, with all its goings out and comings in, in every relationship, civil, social, domestic, be ‘as becometh the gospel.’
It is by the gospel that the apostle would have us test ourselves, and mould our life. It was with the belief of this gospel that our life began; thus let it go on. The gospel lifted us up to a higher level; let us remain there, or rather, let us ascend still higher. To bring out this, let us see what sort of gospel it is that we have come into the possession of.
I. It is a gospel of peace-Let us who have believed it walk at peace and in peace; possessors of peace, and makers of peace. Let peace be written on our forehead and speak out in every word, look, motion. Let us be witnesses for peace; living symbols of peace; seeking the things which make for peace, and which will commend, to all who see or hear us, the peace of God.
II. It is a gospel of liberty.-It has brought us into liberty, and broken our yoke. Let us walk as freemen; our whole lives a witness for true freedom. Let our citizen-life be the life of liberty. The Son has made us free; let us see that we be free indeed; that we commend to the bound world the liberty of Christ.
III. It is a gospel of gladness.-There is no gloom in it; and there ought to be none in those who believe it. It should make our faces shine,- shine all over, so that we may make all men see and feel what a happiness it contains. Walk worthy of this happy gospel. Let men see what a treasure you have within. Rejoice in the Lord. Let your joy be ever full, and overflowing. Let your whole life, your citizen-life, your whole deportment, be an exhibition of this happy gospel.
IV. It is a gospel of light-There is no darkness in it. It is all light; all like Him with whom the light dwelleth, who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all. Let us shine; let our life be a bright one. Let our whole demeanor be brightness, like that of the gospel which we profess. Let our ways and words be all brightness. Let us be children of the light and of the day. Our dwelling is in a dark world. Let not that darkness mar or absorb our light, but rather intensify and enhance it. Let each day’s darkness in the world be met with new brilliance in us. Let us bring out the contrast nobly; and so have our conversation as becometh the gospel of light.
V. It is the gospel of holiness.-A holy gospel; a gospel concerning deliverance from sin; a gospel meant to secure holiness; a gospel which embodies the holiness of a holy God. All in and about this gospel is holy. Let our conversation, our citizen-life, be as becometh this gospel. Let us exhibit it, adorn it by a holy life. An inconsistent life is a scandal, a reproach against the gospel. Let us be consistent, circumspect, watching our ways and words. Let it be seen that we are citizens of the holy city.
VI. It is the gospel of Christ.-He is its all; its sum and burden. The news which are so good are about His person and His propitiation; His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His second coming. We are to walk as becometh such a gospel! We are to live as men who believe in such a Christ as this! If this thought were ever before us, should we not be more on our guard against all sin, more intent on advancing in holiness? Shall we not seek to honour the gospel of Christ? Shall we trifle with it, or treat it as a common thing?
VII. It is the gospel of the kingdom-It brings us the good news of the heavenly, the everlasting kingdom. It points us to the open gate into it. It makes us heirs of it. In that kingdom is the city of which we are heirs; the city which hath foundations, into which nothing that defileth shall enter; where all is perfect, glorious, divine; the New Jerusalem. Let us remember our heirship, our citizenship, and walk accordingly. With such a hope, let us be holy; let us set our affection on things above; let us hold fast; let us be faithful; let us live here as sons, kings, priests; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.