Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;…
We have turned over a new leaf, so to speak, in these verses. The old life we have to mortify gives place to a new life of love which we have to develop. Now, the moment we speak of love, we are brought into relations with others. It is the social Christian life, therefore, of which Paul here speaks. As already seen, he is aiming at the unity of the Church. Here we have the means by which it is secured. Let us briefly analyze this life of love.
I. IT HAS A HEART OF COMPASSION. (Ver. 12, Revised Version.) All the emotion which misfortune evokes in the heart of God is to have its counterpart in the heart of his people. "Kindness, humility, meekness, and long suffering" are to be in exercise within us continually. The apparent drawbacks in others are thus transfigured by our kindly spirit into helps to unity.
II. IT HAS A FORGIVINGNESS LIKE THAT OF GOD. (Ver. 13.) Church members and those outside the Church will, from time to time, be guilty of injustice towards us; we may have just ground of complaint. But how our brother's offences dwindle into utter insignificance when compared with the offences we have ourselves committed against God! It will not do to be severe on our debtors after God has been so forgiving towards ourselves (Matthew 18:21-35). If we cultivate a God-like forgivingness, then we shall be promoting constantly the unity of the Church.
III. LOVE IS ITS BOND OF PERFECTNESS. (Ver. 14.) We need only study 1 Corinthians 13. to see how love is the all-important matter. It is what brings the whole life into harmony. For love expresses the willingness of the person to give himself to the good of others. It is the principle of the new life, without which it cannot exist.
IV. GOD'S PEACE RULES AND EVOKES MAN'S GRATITUDE. (Ver. 15.) For when we are God like in our compassion, forgiveness, and love, we find a peaceful temper laying hold of us. We cannot war with others, but must follow the things that make for peace. To the unity of peace we feel that God has called us. He has been our Peacemaker and the Peacemaker of many more, and so we dwell in the unity of the one mystical body, And surely such a state of mind and heart is something to be thankful for. A grateful spirit for our personal peace and for the peace which permeates through the Church of God.
V. GOD'S WORD IS TRANSLATED INTO HEARTFELT PRAISE. (Ver. 16.) For we can only sustain the new life by the reception of God's quickening Word. It must dwelt within us richly. And if it do, it will evoke praise from our grateful hearts. We will sing in our social gatherings one to another, and be mutually helpful. The meetings of the saints shall be of a most joyful character. And what a unifying element is always found in social praise! How it blends our hearts into unity as we praise the one Lord. The very harmony of the music catches our souls and blends them into something like the harmony of heaven.
VI. ALL LIFE BECOMES SACRAMENTAL. (Ver. 17.) There can be no idle words nor random deeds in the new life. All is consecrated to the Lord. His Name is our banner, and under it all is done. God has thus come and made "the common" clean, and the life on earth is like the great sheet of the Apostle Peter, in which the four footed beasts and creeping things were pure. Into every nook and cranny of the new life the consecrated spirit is carried. The meanest matters are thus lifted into heavenly light, and God reigns over all. Thus it is that the sacramental element is carried into all things, and we feel that "the communion of the Lord's Supper is meant to be a sample of, and not an exception to, our common days; and in the rite there lies a mighty power to make the whole of the rest of life like itself." Arnold has a curious sermon on this text, in which he advocates the consecration in the making of "wills." But this is only an illustration of a universal principle which God requires in the Christian life. There is to be no exception to consecration. In a grateful spirit we are to do all in Christ's Name. May it be our single ambition! - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;