Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
The text repeats the warning of Romans 11:25, and recalls Proverbs 3:7. But it is not to be understood of speculative opinion. It refers to the practical "prudence" which guides men in business and in the ventures and contingencies of life. It might be rendered — "Become not prudent by yourselves." The accepted translation is unfortunate, suggesting a sense the word never bears. Note —
I. THE SPECIAL DANGER CHRISTIANS ARE IN WITH RESPECT TO THIS PRUDENCE.
1. It is the result of a natural instinct. The general source of it is the tendency to make "self" the measure and end of everything. The selfish man is short-sighted and self-opiniated; or he gives undue weight to the maxims of earthly prudence.
2. It is confirmed by the general opinion and practice of men. The proverbs of the world are for the most part mercenary; the moralities of heathen philosophy, so far as practical, are but a refined selfishness.
3. The nobler life of man is thereby prevented. In modern times the recognition of the independence of all nations in regard to the highest interests has been wondrously fruitful. For a man or a nation, therefore, to shut out wilfully the consideration of others, and to "become prudent, merely for or by itself," is for it to lose its place in the commonwealth of knowledge, civilisation, and true progress.
4. The gravest dangers threaten within the sphere of religion. How common is the error "Save yourself" as a religious duty. Let us beware lest we have but exchanged the honest "competition" of the marketplace for a "consecrated selfishness" baptized with the name of Christ! The Gentile converts were in danger of despising the "cast off" Jews, and of thinking the grace of God was henceforth to be their own monopoly. Paul warned them against the error (Romans 11:33-36). Because of similar prejudices, missions to the heathen have been obstructed. Only when we rise to the height of this conception of Christianity can it be a perfect salvation for ourselves as individual Christians.
II. HOW THIS DANGER IS TO BE AVERTED.
1. By constant and prayerful study of the Word of God.
2. By considering the examples of holy men, especially of Christ Himself.
3. By remembering that we are all members of the body of Christ, which is His Church. The good of all men is to be sought. Each must labour towards the universal ends of Christ's kingdom as a "member in particular."
4. By giving heed to the voice of God's Spirit within us. It led Peter and Paul to wider fields of usefulness. The "mind of Christ" will ever lead us to deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow Him. But in so doing we shall discover a Diviner wisdom. In losing our life we shall find it. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," etc.
(St. John A. Frere, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
WEB: Be of the same mind one toward another. Don't set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don't be wise in your own conceits.