And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection.
Love is the most potent affection of the human heart.
I. IT IS THE PRIME ELEMENT IN EVERY OTHER GRACE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. It is the soul of every virtue, and the guarantee of a genuine sincerity. Without it all the rest are but glittering sins. It is possible to have all those mentioned in ver. 12; but without love they would be meaningless, cold, and dead. Mercy would degenerate into sentimentality, kindness into extravagance, humility into mock depreciation, long-suffering into dull, dogged stupidity.
II. IT OCCUPIES THE MOST EXALTED PLACE IN CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. "Above all these things," as the outer garment covers and binds together the rest.
III. Love is THE PLEDGE OF PERMANENCY IN THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. As the girdle, or cincture, bound together the loose flowing robes of the ancients, so love is the power that holds together all those graces which together make up perfection. Love is the preservative force in the Christian character. Without it, knowledge would lose its enterprise, mercy and kindness become languid, humility faint, and long-suffering indifferent. Love binds together in a bond which time cannot injure, the enemy unloose, or death destroy.
IV. THE PERFECTION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER IS SEEN IN THE PRACTICAL MANIFESTATION OF LOVE. "Put on charity."
1. Love is indispensable. It is possible to possess many beautiful traits — much that is humane and aimiable — without being a complete Christian: to be very near perfection, and yet lack one thing. Without love all other graces are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal
2. Love is susceptible of individual cultivation.Lessons:
1. The mere profession of Christianity is empty and valueless.
2. Every grace of the Christian character must be diligently exercised.
3. Above and through all other graces love must operate.
(G. Barlow.)Love is over all, and the bond of perfectness, because —
I. IT IS OF GREATER EXTENT THAN ANY OTHER VIRTUE. Mercy and kindness, and humbleness and forgiveness, are separate graces; but love embraces them all, regards generally our neighbour and those in adversity, our friends and enemies, the good and the bad.
II. WITHOUT IT ALL OTHER GRACES ARE VAIN AND DELUSIVE. Mercy without it is weakness; humility, debasement, meekness, cajolery, and deceit; patience, stupidity; forgiveness, hypocrisy; all is inconsistent, heartless, wayward, selfish.
III. IT SUPPLIES THE WANT OR REMEDIES THE DEFECT OF ANY OTHER GRACES AND VIRTUES. For we are always falling short in one or other, from indwelling sin, from temptation, from cast of character, from peculiar circumstances. A sweet charitable temper provides the articles of Christian attire in which we are from time to time most defective, supplies their place, hides their imperfections, remedies the ill effects of their absence.
(Bishop D. Wilson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.