Charity the Bond of Perfectness
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness, Colossians 3:14.
There is perhaps no single word found in a King James Bible which is missing in modern versions that better illustrates the utter folly of the new versions. In earlier blogs we have looked at "charity" as being distinctly different than "love". Charity is the character of love. It is simply impossible to read I Corinthians 13 and to have it make any coherent sense if charity is changed to love. If I could only change one word in a King James Bible and I had been given a devilish commission to destroy churches and to wreck marriages, my choice would be to change charity to love.
Charity suffereth long, I Corinthians 13:4. Does every husband who loves his wife longsuffer her at all times? Obviously, they do not. What he lacks is character, not love. He may love his wife profoundly, but in small instances of exasperation or when feeling pressured, he may blow up or say something hurtful. Love is not lacking. Good character is lacking.
When the Japanese occupied the Philippines, their stated intention was to make Asia to be for the Asians. They had every intention of making the Philippines into a semi-autonomous vassal state free from European and American influences. They told the Philippine people that what they offered was true dignity for all Asian people. Where that fell apart was in the personal interactions between Japanese Army officers and individual Filipinos.
I had a Filipino who fought as a guerilla fighter throughout the occupation tell me that he had considered living peacefully with the Japanese, but in a conversation with a Japanese officer, the man slapped him across the face to make a point. As my friend told me, that had been a big mistake. If a man arbitrarily slapped you in one out of every hundred or so conversations, how often would you be braced for it?
I often tell husbands that if they say something bitter or malicious every few weeks or so, their wife is constantly braced for it. Love isn't what's lacking. Good character is lacking. The new bibles say that love is lacking. I have yet to be involved with a collapsed marriage where love was missing. What was missing was the character that love should exhibit. When they should be longsuffering, they were short with each other. When they should have been kind, they said cruel things. They vaunted themselves and were often puffed up.
Their behavior was often unseemly. Increasingly, it was easier and easier for them to provoke each other. After a while, they only sought for their own good having become convinced that their partner no longer sought their good. When I would have them in an office, they would often break down and hug each other with tears because they truly loved each other, but when they left the office, they would revert to the maddening little lapses of character that made them so miserable towards each other.
Churches can fall into the same pattern. Regardless of whether or not the people in a church love each other, that love is worthless if they do not have the character to behave properly towards each other. The Apostle Paul called charity the bond of perfectness. In doing so he was invoking the peace offering of Leviticus 3.
And he shall offer thereof his offering, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away, Leviticus 3:14-15. The peace offering was not complete if the bowels of the offering were not offered.
You can see that their were five distinct things that the priest was to pile up before he put the caul upon it. He was to pile up the fat that covered the inwards, the fat above the inwards, the two kidneys and the fat upon them. Then he put on the caul. The caul is the membrane that holds the bowels in place. It is a sack that keeps the bowels in order when the animal moves. There are predators whose technique is to run along beside the animal and to nip at its soft belly. They seek to rip that caul and to have the entrails spill out while the animal is running. All such a predator has to do is stay by the prey and seek to tear one little place.
In Colossians 3:12, we are told to put on five bowels; Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. In verse 14 we are told to put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. Charity is that membrane that holds all other emotions in check. Just as an animal that has its caul ripped will soon find that perfectly functioning bowels are now an impediment and are spilling out or getting entangled one with another, a church which breaks down in the character of personal interactions one with another will find that individual members practicing mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness and longsuffering to be worthless if the caul of charity is ripped.
A church does not fail because it lacks mercy, or kindness, or humbleness of mind, or meekness, or longsuffering. All too often those traits are spilled out all over for everyone to see and the very bowels that should have comforted become a torment. Someone will cry, "I showed that lady mercy, and this is how she rewards me!" Another man who is known for great humility, slowly quits coming because others are vaunting themselves. Acts of kindness are stored up in memory with bitterness, because the person who did the kind deed does not feel adequately recognized. The emotions of the church become entangled and spill out all over.
The predator did not need to tackle the church or rip it entirely asunder. Merely by ripping that caul of charity, he got the very bowels of that church which should have been for the church's blessing, to become entangled and be to the church's destruction.