Clement of Rome: Establish Ourselves

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

“Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all haughtiness, and pride, and foolishness, and angry feelings; and let us act according to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit says, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glories glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing justice and righteousness”), being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spoke, teaching us meekness and long-suffering. For thus He spoke: “Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as you do, so shall it be done to you; as you judge, so shall you be judged; as you are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure you measure, with the same it shall be measured to you.” By this precept and by these rules let us establish ourselves, that we walk with all humility in obedience to His holy words. For the holy word says, “On whom shall I look, but on him that is meek and peaceable, and who trembles at My words?”

Clement, Bishop of Rome (c. 96) in 1 Clement 13 (translated by Roberts and Donaldson).

Clement wrote this letter to the church in Corinth just prior to his martyrdom. The bishop was tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea (c. 101). Despite terrible persecution under the Roman Emperor Trajan, the early church continued to grow.

He wanted them to “establish themselves.”  We do this when we walk in obedience to Jesus with humility and kindness. This is a strong statement to the Corinthian church during difficult times. It provides wonderful insight for us today.

When the world around us seems increasingly against Christianity, what is our best course of action? Should we fight to convince them we are right and they are wrong? No! That would be to glory in our wisdom. Should we talk boldly and carry a big stick? No! That would be to bully them and glory in our might. Should we stockpile riches to try to preserve our comfort and protect ourselves from the opposition? No! That would be to glory in our riches. We should live mindful of the words of Jesus and obey with humility and kindness.

Clement urged the Corinthians (and us) to follow the teachings of Jesus echoed in today’s Scripture by the Apostle Paul to “establish ourselves.” That’s the most generous gift we can give those around us in crazy times. When we establish ourselves in Him through obedience with humility and kindness, we show others how to establish themselves. We do this by diligently seeking Him and doing justice and righteousness in a world filled with injustice and brokenness.

When this posts, my wife, Jenni, and I should be somewhere over the Pacific Ocean en route to Sydney, Australia. God help us get there safely and get some rest on the way.