Saturday, 11 February 2017
Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Philippians 3:16
The word “Nevertheless” is given to show that there are different degrees of maturity within the body. In other words, Paul said “as many as are mature” in the previous verse. But there really are none who are on exactly the same level of maturity. Some had heard Paul speak many times and were well-grounded in their understanding of the work of Christ. Some may have missed those meetings, or had come more recently to the faith. And some of them simply may have been incapable of understanding the more difficult issues which were presented to them.
Whatever the state of the individual was, and for whatever reasons, to that degree to which they were mature, he instructs, “…let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” In other words, arguments and divisions serve no valid purpose if they do not involve heresy or major doctrinal differences. When the end of life comes for an individual, it won’t be the lesser points of doctrine that people speak about at their funeral. Instead, it will be that they loved Christ Jesus, spoke out boldly for Him, and were willing to walk in harmony with others who may have disagreed, even over things that ultimately make little difference in the overall scheme of things.
When Markus Polonius is laying in his coffin, nobody with a modicum of decency would come up and say, “He believed that the church replaced Israel, and so he was a really crummy Christian.” Instead, they will speak about what united them, not about the things he was wrong on and which will be revealed to him by Christ. If this is how we speak about one another at death, is it really necessary to tear them apart in their life?
Life application: Doctrine matters. It is right for teachers to hold the line on what is proper doctrine. But when two teachers with opposing views speak to one another, it shouldn’t be for tearing one another down. Minds are not changed that way, and it is only harmful to the fellowship. Let us learn to hold our tongues at times when our lofty opinions are unwanted, or when they will only cause division.
Lord God, it is good and right to stand firm on doctrine, but it isn’t right to stand and tear others apart over minor issues. Help us to use wisdom when defending a point of doctrine and not to cause unnecessary division within the body. Unless someone is truly mishandling Your word, it is probably better that we keep our mouths shut until our opinion is asked for. You will correct faulty doctrine that we stubbornly hold on to. Until then, just give us the wisdom to understand that it is we who could be wrong and to pursue the truth of Your word always. Amen.