Bound Together By Love
Robert Wurtz II
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14 ESV)
“Two or more things cannot be held together without a third; they must have a bond of union. And the fairest bond is that which most completely fuses and is fused into the things which are bound.” (“Timaeus,” 31 quoted in Vincent) In Colossians 2:2 Paul speaks of the hearts of believers being “knit together” in love. If the love of God has been poured out into my heart and your heart we are fully capable of being bound together in perfect love. But we have this command to “put on” that refers back to Colossians 3:12-13 that we must touch on first. Our picture in one sense is that of layer upon layer of garments. In fact, the Greek word for “put on” means to “sink down into” like a garment. As God’s holy, chosen and beloved people we are to sink down into:
1. a compassionate heart +
2. kindness +
3. humbleness of mind +
4. gentleness +
5. restraint of passion (especially anger)/patience +
6. bearing with one another +
7. Forgiving each other as Christ forgave us
The binding garment
Our passage in Colossians 3:14 begins with the phrase, “And above all these…”. This is the final binding garment (as it were) that will anchor and tether all of these other attributes. “Above all” is a phrase that escalates love to the highest level of importance. The “these” that he is speaking of is the list in Colossians 3:13-14. As we look at this passage let us settle this once and for all in our minds. The subject of love is not secondary, or even primary, it is at the very top of our religion and faith. A thousand subjects may be spoken on within any given day withing the Body of Christ, but none excel past this one. We must settle ourselves and come to terms with this fact. We need to introspectively search our own hearts. Why? Because without the love of God, given to us through the life of God, our gatherings are nothing more than a glorified club or association.
The Binding Power of Love
Our next phrase is “which binds everything together….” The picture here is that of a girdle that binds together all other aspects of the clothing. It was a foundational connective garment. like an over garment, love is to be “put on” over the top of everything in Colossians 2:18 in order to hold it all together. Within the range of meaning in this concept is another picture of the binding power of tendons and other connective tissues within the body. These hold the various members together as a functional unit. This is how a knee functions or an elbow. Love is that binding force that brings cohesion to all things within the body. Without love, everything within the body of Christ becomes disjointed and dissimulated.
A torn ligament or a herniated area
Our passage is a powerful picture of the essential binding force (love) necessary for the body to function. Any area of the body where love is not being rightly expressed is a place “not holding” itself together. Colossians 2:19 explains that Christ, the Head, has to be held. He has to be given His rightful place as the head and held there. (See Ephesians 4:16) If we allow Jesus Christ, the Head, to become disjointed because we are not moving in love for Him and will allow other ‘loves’ to become the head and rule our lives. Moreover, every member of the body is important and each one needs to be “held in place” by the power of love. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians:
But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (1 Corinthians 12:20-22)
God set the members in the Body of Christ as He sees fit, but Paul tells us that love is essential to the functionality of all of those members. Non-love is to the body as a torn ligament or a herniated abdominal wall. It is a weak spot. In fact, if non-love is not dealt with soon, certain members of the Body may become disconnected or even rejected by others members of the Body. This is a particular concern in a time when scripture tells us that because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will wax cold. There is no replacement for water and there is no replacement for love.
As we mentioned in our previous article Herod and Pilate were made friends and brought into unity, not because they loved each other, but by placing their hands on a common enemy and destroying Him. When love is not present to maintain cohesion and unity, then something will have to be substituted. Love can hold all things together in unity, but non-love can only sacrifice a victim to mend a fence and maintain connectivity.
Real life = real love
Jesus came into the world that we might have life and have it more abundantly. This is the very life of God that He pours out into us when we genuinely receive the Spirit. This is the life that empowers us to love. What does it profit to speak in tongues if we cannot love? The song writer speaks of “pouring our love on Christ”, but He has called us to also pour our holy love on one another in a binding unity. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14 ESV) What things? Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV) Love binds this list together and holds it in place. It holds each of us together in place. What are we trying to substitute for this love? It will never do. We need it above all these other things, and that is quite a list. May God quicken our minds to this reality and show us how utterly determined He is to bind us together in love.