A Threefold Cord of Grace
Colossians 3:14, 15
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection.…

We have here an attractive picture of a loving, peaceful, thankful Christian.

I. LOVE. It is compared to the girdle, put on over the other articles of attire, and helping to bind all in their place. Christian love is no mere natural emotion or self interested affection. It is the fruit of the Spirit, whereby God is sincerely loved for his own sake, and one's neighbour for God's sake. To love even our fellow Christians because they are God's children is not always easy, on account of their inconsistencies. But it is eminently a Christian grace (John 13:35; 1 John 5:1). It is called "the bond of perfectness," because:

1. It is the element of all other graces, the sphere in which they are exercised. It is like the golden light in which some summer evening landscape is bathed, or the green grass on which the multicoloured flowers are blooming. Without love, "knowledge puffeth up," gifts are "sounding brass," faith is idle (Galatians 5:6), zeal may be wildfire, mercy weakness, humility pride, and charity ostentation. With love, each of these maybe the Spirit's fruit. It is thus the bond of perfectness, the distinctive feature of a complete Christian character (Romans 13:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8, 13; Galatians 5:14).

2. Love is the pledge of all other graces. For if we dwell in love and in God (1 John 4:16) we enjoy increasingly the perfections of God. The outer dress is generally the most valuable part, and a sign that other parts are present and in keeping with it. So the precious girdle of love, visible to all, is a sign that other graces are present and kept in their place by this "bond of perfectness." Cultivate it by charitable judgments, by much forbearance, by seeking to win and refine the less attractive, and to walk in the path marked out for us by Christ (John 15:12; Ephesians 5:2).

II. PEACE. This peace is described by a most attractive name, "the peace of Christ" (John 14:27), the tranquillity of a trustful child. The term "rule" may be understood in two senses.

1. Exert its power to protect. (See Philippians 4:7, where God's peace is likened to a garrison; Psalm 112:7; Isaiah 26:3.) Peace gives strength, and strength peace (Psalm 29:11).

2. Sit as umpire. When in doubt in regard to business speculations, worldly amusements, etc., we may ask, "Which course will the peace of Christ ruling in my heart approve?" To such peace we are called, but to enjoy it we must allow this peace to rule. We shall then be kept from falling (Psalm 119:165), have peace in conflict (John 16:33) and in inaction (Psalm 4:8), through life and in death (Psalm 37:37). Peace is the faithful handmaid of love, which attends it even in the stormier days of life (Romans 15:13).

III. THANKFULNESS. If God's love is shed abroad and Christ's peace rules in our hearts, grateful feelings will well up like sparkling streams. And gratitude to God will deepen love and preserve in peace, fostering forbearance, pity, unselfishness, and patience under those trials which a loving Father appoints for our education. - E.S.P.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

WEB: Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection.

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