Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering. Colossians 3:12
In the Hebrew Bible, the Greek Septuagint, the Greek New Testament, the King James Bible, bowels play a central role as a term for deep human feeling, specific moral virtues, and the love of God. Such bowel imagery is ubiquitous, appearing not only in obscure passages, but also in many of the most important discussions of charity, God’s grace.
Bowels of mercies – Be merciful, not in act merely, but in spirit and affection. In all cases of this kind let your heart dictate to your hand; be clothed with bowels of mercy – let your tenderest feelings come in contact with the miseries of the distressed as soon as ever they present themselves. The apostle would have them to feel the slightest touch of another’s misery; and, as their clothes are put over their body, so their tenderest feeling should be always within the reach of the miserable. Let your feelings be at hand, and feel and commiserate as soon as touched.
Bowels of mercy – a sympathizing spirit with saints in distress, weeping with them that weep, suffering with them that suffer, being touched, as their high priest is, with a feeling of their sorrows and weaknesses: it denotes inward pity and compassion to distressed objects, the most tender regard to persons in misery, and such compassion as is free from all hypocrisy and deceit, and therefore is expressed by “bowels”; and what is very large, and reaches to multitudes of objects, and is displayed and exerted various ways, and therefore signified by “mercies”. Now such a spirit is a very beautiful one; the apostle begins with the innermost of these garments, adding to it
kindness, which is this inward, tender, unfeigned, and abundant mercy put into act and exercise; this is doing good to all men, especially to the household of faith, distributing to the necessities of the saints, and a showing mercy with cheerfulness, and is very ornamental to a Christian professor: as is also
humbleness of mind; which lies in the saints entertaining mean thoughts of themselves, looking upon themselves as the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints; as inferior to others in knowledge, experience, gifts, and graces; in esteeming others better than themselves; in ascribing all they have, and are, to the grace of God; in doing works of mercy and righteousness without ostentation, and boasting of them, or depending on them; owning, that when they have done all they can, they are but unprofitable servants; and this is a beautiful dress for a believer to appear in: be ye clothed with humility; see 1 Peter 5:5. And of the like nature is
meekness; which shows itself in not envying the gifts and graces, the usefulness and happiness of others, but rejoicing therein; in quietly submitting to the will of God in all adverse dispensations of Providence, and patiently bearing what he is pleased to lay on them; and in enduring all the insults, reproaches, and indignities of men with calmness. This ornament of a meek and quiet, spirit is in the sight of God of great price, 1 Peter 3:4. And what follows is natural to it, and explanative of it,
longsuffering: whereby a person patiently bears the evil words and actions of others, and is not easily provoked to wrath by them, but puts up with injuries, and sits down contented with the ill usage he meets with.
Bowels of mercy, the tenderest mercies. Those who owe so much to mercy ought to be merciful to all who are proper objects of mercy.
Be you merciful, as your Father is merciful, Lu. 6:36
Those who have been attending church all their lives are most guilty of not showing the bowels of mercy as each Sunday they routinely or habitually attend church, warm the pews, and leave hurriedly to the next entertainment site – the golf course, the cinema, the shopping mall or a good family restaurant. Many do not make the effort to shake hands with those nearby or even notice who are absent and may be hurting or ill or in need.
Faith Child, the earlier you learn to have bowels of mercy the more you please the Lord. It will not affect your salvation but surely will affect how much fulfilment you experience as a Child of God, in just being merciful to someone in need. As we have received mercy from God our heavenly Father, so we should pass it on as we become more like Christ.
We are exhorted here to several things:-
1. To clothe ourselves with love (v. 14): Above all things put on charity: Let this be the upper garment, the robe, the livery, the mark of our dignity and distinction.Add to faith virtue, and to brotherly-kindness charity, 2 Pt. 1:5-7. Christian unity consists of unanimity and mutual love.
2. To submit ourselves to the government of the peace of God (v. 15): Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, that is, God’s being at peace with you, and the comfortable sense of his acceptance and favour: or, a disposition to peace among yourselves, a peaceable spirit, that keeps the peace, and makes peace. This is called the peace of God, because it is of his working in all who are his. The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace, Rom. 14:17. “Let this peace rule in your heart-prevail and govern there, or as an umpire decide all matters of difference among you.”- Being united in one body, we are called to be at peace one with another, as the members of the natural body; for we are the body of Christ, and members in particular, 1 Co. 12:27. To preserve in us this peaceable disposition, we must be thankful. The work of thanksgiving to God is such a sweet and pleasant work that it will help to make us sweet and pleasant towards all men. “Instead of envying one another upon account of any particular favours and excellence, be thankful for his mercies, which are common to all of you.”
3. To let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, v. 16. The gospel is the word of Christ, which has come to us; but that is not enough, it must dwell in us, or keep house-not as a servant in a family, who is under another’s control, but as a master, who has a right to prescribe to and direct all under his roof. We must take our instructions and directions from it, and our portion of meat and strength, of grace and comfort, in due season, as from the master of the household. It must dwell in us; that is, be always ready and at hand to us in every thing, and have its due influence and use. We must be familiarly acquainted with it, and know it for our good, Job 5:27. It must dwell in us richly: not only keep house in our hearts, but keep a good house. Many have the word of Christ dwelling in them, but it dwells in them but poorly; it has no mighty force and influence upon them. Then the soul prospers when the word of God dwells in us richly, when we have abundance of it in us, and are full of the scriptures and of the grace of Christ. And this in all wisdom. The word of Christ must dwell in us, not in all notion and speculation, to make us doctors, but in all wisdom, to make us good Christians, and enable us to conduct ourselves in every thing as becomes Wisdom’s children.
4. To teach and admonish one another. This would contribute very much to our furtherance in all grace; for we sharpen ourselves by quickening others, and improve our knowledge by communicating it for their edification. We must admonish one another in psalms and hymns. Observe, Singing of psalms is a gospel ordinance the Psalms of David, and spiritual hymns and odes, collected out of the scripture, and suited to special occasions, instead of their lewd and profane songs in their idolatrous worship. . But, when we sing psalms, we make no melody unless we sing with grace in our hearts, unless we are suitably affected with what we sing and go along in it with true devotion and understanding. Singing of psalms is a teaching ordinance as well as a praising ordinance; and we are not only to quicken and encourage ourselves, but to teach and admonish one another, mutually excite our affections, and convey instructions.
5. All must be done in the name of Christ (v. 17): And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, according to his command and in compliance with his authority, by strength derived from him, with an eye to his glory, and depending upon his merit for the acceptance of what is good and the pardon of what is amiss, Giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Observe,
(1.) We must give thanks in all things; whatsoever we do, we must still give thanks, Eph. 5:20, Giving thanks always for all things.
(2.) The Lord Jesus must be the Mediator of our praises as well as of our prayers. We give thanks to God and the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. 5:20. Those who do all things in Christ’s name will never want matter of thanksgiving to God, even the Father.
Faith Child, what reputation do you have? of the worldly or as a good representative of Jesus Christ?