Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another.
Observe the tender and sacred style of the apostle's admonition. He does not drive us with the law, but persuades by reminding us of the ineffable grace of God. He calls us the "elect of God," "holy," and "beloved." He desires to call forth in us the fruits of faith, wishing to have them yielded in a willing, cheerful and happy spirit. The individual who truly believes that he is beloved, holy and elect before God, will consider how he may sustain his honor and titles, and how he must conduct himself to be worthy of them. He will love God with a fervor that will enable him to do or omit, or suffer all things, and will ever think that he is not doing enough.
Paul here speaks of that sincere and whole-souled mercy, characteristic of a father or mother who witnesses the distress of their child for which they would readily expose their lives or give up all their possessions. The Christian heart and mind is constantly devoted to merciful deeds with an ardor so intense as to make him unaware that he is doing good and compassionate acts.
Paul condemns also the works and arbitrary rules of hypocritical saints, whose severity will not permit them to associate with sinners, and who exercise no mercy but administer perpetual reproach, censure, criticism, blame and bluster. They are unable to endure imperfections in any, though they themselves are sinners and many are infirm. Christians reject none, and will bear with all. They are as sincerely interested in sinners as they are in themselves. They pray for them, teach, admonish, persuade, do all in their power to reclaim them. The virtues mentioned in the text become us better in the sight of God than pearls, precious stones, silk and gold become us in the eyes of the world. So Christ dealt with the adulteress, brought her to repentance and with gracious words suffered her to depart. So God in Christ has dealt with us and ever deals.
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