I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tried those who say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars. And have borne, and have patience, and for my name’s sake have labored, and have not fainted.” Revelation 2:2-3
Christ did not please Himself’ (Romans 15:3). Yet if any one were entitled to please Himself, it was the Son of the Blessed, the Son of the Highest. He was no flesh-pleaser, no man-pleaser, no self-pleaser. He ‘pleased the Father’ (John 8:29). He was the highest type or specimen of that which was found so pre-eminently in Enoch, who was commended as one who pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5).
Paul did not please himself. ‘I have made myself a servant to all’ (1 Corinthians 9:19). ‘I keep under my body’ (1 Corinthians 9:27; Greek, ‘I buffet or maltreat’). There exists no picture of a self-denied man like that of 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. Let us study the whole passage, especially these words—’In much endurance, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonment, in tumults, in labors, in watching, in fastings.’ What minister of Christ, what Christian man or woman, does not blush and hang the head as he reads these words?
What do we say to our self-indulgence, our sloth, our love of ease, our avoidance of hardship, our luxury our pampering of the body, our costly feasts, our silken couches, our brilliant furniture, our gay clothing, our braided hair, our jeweled fingers, our idle mirth, our voluptuous music, our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of wine and rich viands? Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings? Where is the self-denial of primitive days? Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world? Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary? “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!” Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not always be “living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” But even where these are absent, there is ‘high living,’—luxury of the table or the wardrobe—in conformity to ‘this present evil world.’
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