And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Colossians 3:14
Unity is the desire of God for his children. This is the last prayer Jesus prayed for before going to calvary. The early Christians were known for their unity. And all those having believed were together the same, and having all things in common… (Acts 2.14). However, it is disturbing that unity as a mark of Christianity has lost its savor.
In the text in this Scripture Col. 3:14, love is the bond of the perfect unity. Christians are expected to manifest this divine nature which they inherited at the time of accepting Christ. But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God (John1:12). God is love. He exercises infinite kindness toward all his creatures whether holy or unholy. He is infinitely far from consenting to injustice in any case. And he is infinitely opposed to all injurious treatment of his friends or his foes. He would as fully resent, as sternly rebuke, and as promptly punish injustice done to the devil as to any soul on earth or in heaven.
Jesus Christ, in human flesh, will not, cannot, connive nor consent to any abusive treatment of the vilest sinners in the universe. Jesus was called a friend of sinners by the Pharisees as a form of an assault on His reputation. Therefore, we as well greatly grieve him, when we trifle with the name, the reputation, or the feelings of the wickedest sinner on earth or even the devil in hell as if you were guilty of the same conduct toward any of his friends.
Christ is infinitely unlike the sinful man in this respect. Wicked men will connive at the abuse of their enemies, and even secretly acquiesce in it. But it is infinitely otherwise with God. There is a great and universal mistake upon this subject. There are few if any who do not consider it wicked to speak evil of a brother. But how many there are who throw up the rein when speaking of others than their brethren, and are guilty of absolute railing at and shocking abuse of the enemies of God; and perhaps also of the professed friends of God.
Oh, you Christians are you imitater of God in this respect? because as He is, even so, are we in this world (1 John 4:17). When you have company, do you sit down and serve up a dish of slander? Do you dissect and mangle the character of your neighbor? Man, are you a railer? Have you forgotten that God has said, “Speak evil of no man,” – “be no brawler, but be gentle showing all meekness unto all men”? But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12.36).
Hmm, what about the political opponent, or a competitor in business, or some opponent of religious views and practices. Do you think of him very wicked – an enemy of God, of truth, and righteousness, and perhaps think yourself to be “doing God service” in giving him over to all the curses of reprobation. Now stop! O stop! Pause as upon the brink of eternity! What are you saying? Of whom are you speaking? Of a man “made in the image of God.”
Suppose he is as bad or even immeasurably worse than you think he is, yet there is a sense in which all mankind are the children of God. Suppose they do sin and rebel; will this afford an apology, in his view, for your abuse of them? I tell you nay. And every time you do it, you grieve and provoke the Holy Spirit. And it is wonderful, that he does not turn away his face from you forever.
In love, there is no fear and as well no evil speaking. Love in the heart of Christians leads to unity among brethren. God looks at the heart. Your thoughts and the secret movements of your mind, lie open before him. The words and actions of man are no otherwise pleasing or offensive in his sight than as they are the expression of what passes within a man. All your silent and most secret musings, are as well distinctly observed, and marked, and pondered by the Holy Spirit. He weighs every thought of your heart in his balance. If you indulge evil, and unkind and unchristian thoughts of any being in the universe, he knows it and is as truly grieved and offended with them, although you may never have given utterance to them as if they were penciled in sunbeams in every part of the universe.
Thus in perfect love, one should be in the habit of taking up strict scrutiny and searching into the secret thoughts, and purposes, and workings of the mind? Could one have grieved the Holy Spirit without scarcely being aware of it? Perhaps, if all the thoughts you have entertained, had been spoken out, both God and man might have been grieved and had a just cause of offense.
God takes the thought of the heart as seriously as the deed. Thus Jesus Christ said, “But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. (Matthew 12:36) . Now, remember that to God’s ear these thoughts have been as audibly expressed as if spoken in thunder tones. To God’s eye they have been as open, and as black, and as grievous as if written in letters of darkness upon the very skies. Now do commune with your own heart, and be still, and take up the solemn question: what have I thought as well as what have I said?
In Christian love, there is no disposition to retaliate. This temper of mind that tends to retaliate is as far as possible from the temper of Christ and is the direct opposite of a state of sanctification. The spirit of Christ would be, to forgive enemies, and those who have injured you, and to labor, and suffer great self-denial for their good. But the spirit of retaliation is earthly, sensual, devilish.
Christian love or love from the heart does not entertain prejudice. Prejudice, as the term imports, is to prejudge a case, to make up your mind without hearing both sides of a question. This is an attempt to make up your minds that this or that thing is right or wrong, and setting your faces, and using your influence accordingly, deaf and blind to everything on the other side. Scarcely can you find these days, Christians of all denominations, on all the most solemn subjects in regard to men, and measures, and doctrines, in a state of commitment and unity without any prejudice?
In the spirit of denominationalism, Christians often go blindly and often madly forward in fighting against God, and the dearest interests of his kingdom. And what is worse than all the rest, this spirit is spoken of by almost all as a calamity rather than a crime. The most unreasonable conduct and the most wicked and persecuting temper seems to be sufficiently excused by saying, “O the individual is under the influence of prejudice.” And if peradventure a man gets his eyes open upon any question where he has been in the wrong, he speaks of his former vices and conducts as, in a great measure, excusable on the ground of his having been prejudiced.
The truth is that prejudice is one of the most detestable sins that disgraces the Church and grieves the Holy Spirit of God. And now are any of you under its influence? Of course you will say, no, for the very fact that you are implies that you are ignorant of it. But let me ask you, if you are sure that upon every subject, that at present agitates the Church and the world especially upon those great and leading topics upon which the nation and the world are so much divided: Abolition, Moral Reform, Temperance, Holiness, Revivals of Religion, Measures, Doctrines, &c. are you sure that you have attended to both sides of the question before you judge?
Have you taken sufficient pains to inform yourself in regard to men and measures, and the actual or probable results, to have made up an enlightened and unbiased judgment in the case? Certainly, Christians do need to inhabit a critical mindset to every issue in discourse. If not, Why are your feelings enlisted on one side? Why do you use your influence in the manner you do? How do you know but a view of the whole subject would entirely change your views and practice, and cause you to go sorrowing down to your grave because you had been found to fight against God? O! how is the Holy Spirit grieved at the vast amount of prejudice which causes the jangling and misunderstanding and misrule of both the Church and the world.