Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;…
We must not only "cease to do evil" in putting off the old man, we "must learn to do well." "Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering."
I. THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN POSITION. "As God's elect, holy and beloved." They are chosen unto holiness that they should be without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:4). The saints are:
1. The elect ones of God. They are chosen to final salvation (Matthew 24:22, 24, 31; Revelation 17:14; Titus 1:1; Romans 8:33).
2. The elect are
(1) holy -
(a) consecrated to God,
(b) subjectively holy (2 Corinthians 7:1);
(2) beloved -
(a) the election is connected with God's love (Romans 11:28);
(b) it is a free love (Hosea 14:5), a tender love (Joel 2:13), an everlasting love (Zephaniah 3:17).
II. THE DISCHARGE OF THESE CHRISTIAN OBLIGATIONS. We are to put on:
1. A heart of compassion; not a head of high knowledge, after Gnostic perception. The apostle begins with the natural and universal instinct of pity, which is here more an act of grace than of nature, for it springs from love to God. We ought to cultivate it,
(1) because the Father of mercies is merciful (Luke 6:33);
(2) because those who need it are our own flesh (Isaiah 58:7);
(3) because it will attest the reality and worth of our religion (James 1:27);
(4) because we shall reap after the measure of mercies both here and hereafter (Hosea 10:12).
2. Kindness. This is the temper of mind which produces a sweet and happy intercourse with others. Our English word is derived from "kin," and thus a kind man is a kinned man; we ought to regard the saints as kinsfolk, for they are children of God and brethren in Christ.
3. Humility. This is the temper of mind which affects our estimate of ourselves. It is closely allied to kindness, for it takes an unselfish view of personal interests. We ought to "seek lowliness" (Zephaniah 2:3), because:
(1) It is one of Christ's own graces (Matthew 11:29).
(2) God regards it as a grace eminently worthy of our vocation (Ephesians 4:1, 2).
(3) He loves to dwell in a lowly soul (Isaiah 57:15). He giveth grace to the lowly (1 Peter 5:5, 6).
(4) He does not despise their prayers (Psalm 102:7).
4. Meekness, long suffering. They affect our outward bearing towards others, especially in the case of injury or insult. They are linked together as companion graces in Galatians 5:22. They are eminently illustrated in the life of Christ, and are both fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). God will guide the meek in judgment and teach them his way (Psalm 25:9). It is the praise of Christian love that it suffers long (1 Corinthians 13:4).
5. Forbearance and mutual forgiveness. "Forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any." This temper is eminently conducive to peaceful relations and diminishes the natural friction of life. It implies
(1) a bearing with the infirmities of others (Galatians 6:2);
(2) a disposition to take wrong rather than stand upon the last jot of our rights (1 Corinthians 6:7);
(3) a pleasing of our neighbour for his good to edification (Romans 15:1, 2);
(4) a frank forgiveness of our neighbour in case of a fault, - jars and discords may arise even among saints.
(5) It is a temper which is illustrated and enforced by the example of Christ: "Even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye." His example is decisive both as to the act and the manner of it. He forgave his enemies; he forgave freely; he forgave finally, for salvation.
6. Love. "And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness." This love to the brethren is to be put on as the cincture to bind the other graces together.
(1) The necessity of this love.
(a) It is the proof of faith (Galatians 5:6).
(b) It tends to the increase of the mystical body (Ephesians 4:17).
(c) It makes us like God himself (1 John 4:16).
(d) It is a demonstration of the reality of religion to a godless world (John 15:8; Matthew 5:16).
(2) The dignity of this love; it is "the bond of perfectness." It holds together all the graces which make up perfection. The Judaeo-Gnostics found their perfection in knowledge; the apostle finds it in love. Knowledge puffeth up, charity edifieth" (1 Corinthians 8:1). Love binds believers together, and looks to their final perfection in God. - T. C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;