That ye may be sincere and without offence, till the day of Christ. (Phil. i. 10)
THE Apostle in this Epistle exhorts us to three things. Firstly, to the avoiding of sin. That ye may be sincere. Secondly, to all love: Filled with the fruits of righteousness. Thirdly, to the possession of a right intention: With the glory and praise of God.
- On the first head it is to be noted, that three commands are given. (1) That we should seek after purity of mind. That ye may be sincere. Blessed are the pure in heart. for they shall see God. (St. Matt. v. 3)
First we must be sincere with God. We must therefore desire to please God with all of our lives. We must yearn and long to do His Will, to keep His Commandments, and to perfect His Law. Thus our hearts must be free of affection for false gods. Our desire and longing must be to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
(2) That we should avoid doing injury to our neighbours. Without offence: Giving no offence in anything. (2 Cor. vi. 3)
If we are sincere, then our love of God will extend to our love for God in others. If we would perfect God’s Image and Likeness in ourselves, we must honor it not only in ourselves but through ourselves in others.
(3) That we should persevere in both courses. Till the day of Christ,i.e., till after death; when the day of man is ended the dayof Christ begins.
We must persevere with all diligence and determination in the double love that is offered to us in the Person of Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. We ask Jesus to love in and through us continuously. We ask Jesus to enable us to run the race that is set before us. This is the race in which we desire to be moved by love of God and love of neighbor.
- On the second head it is to be noted, that the Apostle likewise gives three commandments.
(1) He exhorts us to rectitude of mind. The fruits of righteousness. Saint Anselm defines justice to be that rectitude of will which is preserved for its own sake.
Rectitude of will is choosing the pure and perfect good because it is what alone perfects the will. The will is the seat of desire. Thus we must honor, respect, and revere our will through our minds. What we then must do is intend to perfect the will by obeying God alone.
(2) To the having a delight in that which is good. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness; which are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. (Gal. v. 22, 23)
Choosing the good is essential to our perfection. But God intends that we should also find joy and delight in the acquisition and perfection of the virtues. Rectitude of mind includes finding satisfaction in the ongoing growth of virtue in our lives. As these virtues begin to become habits in our lives we must cherish and treasure them as the unmerited gifts of our loving God, who longs to bring the means of Glory alive in us.
(3) To the having perfection in good, being filled. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (St. Matt. v. 48)
Rectitude of mind stirs us to desire perfection and final union with God. To be perfect is not easy, but Christ urges us to seek perfection, the perfection of our Heavenly Father, because He intends to share His perfection with us, even forever. So today let us have a right-thinking determination to please God with all of our lives and to receive His Grace that we might show forth His Glory. Amen.