And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection.
When the cutler brings his goods to market, he may have the best of steel in the blade and the best of horn in the handle, and every part may be rivetted strongly; but if the blade has not been polished, and if there be no finishing work in the handle, he cannot sell his stock. It is just as good for practical purposes as though it were finished; but people do not want it. They want their blades polished and their handles finished, and they are so used to having goods sand-papered and burnished, that they will not take them unless they are so. There must be art in them. And this is carried so far, that when articles are good for nothing art is put on the outside to make them seem good for something. And men buy things for the sake of their looks. The idea of perfection lies in the direction of the aesthetic; and as much so in social and moral elements as in physical things. Men are not now finished in any respect in their higher relations. I mean even good men. There are hundreds of men that are in the main laying out their life and character in right directions, and on right foundations; but how few men know how to be good variously, systematically, gracefully, genially, sweetly, beautifully.
(H. W. Beecher.)When the apostle speaks so highly of charity, he does not mean to disparage the other graces. They also are most beautiful, considered apart from charity, only charity has such a sun-like excellence, in its presence all star-like beauty, and even moon-like beauty, seem to grow dim and fade away. Compare the diamond with a common wayside stone, and we are not greatly impressed with its superiority; the contrast is too great. Set it in the royal crown; encircle it with pearls; let it compare with other jewels; with ruby, and garnet, and emerald; then the depth of its crystal purity seems so impressive, and the flashing of its light so exquisite. Set charity alongside "humbleness, bowels of mercies, long-suffering," or forgiving, then it seems to gather up into itself much of the charm and loveliness of such graces, and stands forth in the centre of them all, "the very bond of perfectness."
(R. Tuck, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.