“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” ~ Colossians 3:14
Explanation of the Text: The topic of love is one of the most talked about characteristics of Christianity. Both believers and unbelievers have become experts in Christianity, proclaiming that all that matters in the Christian walk is love. But, for often as it is touted, love is probably the most misunderstood aspect of the Christian life.
To many, love is a feeling or emotion. It makes us feel good. Likewise, love is accepting of all people in all situations, regardless of the circumstances. But this type of love will not last. Love that is based first on emotion will eventually fall because it is not grounded in head knowledge. Love must be first grounded in the mind, and it must be done so in a truthful, right understanding of what love is. Love is more than feelings.
- Love is action: We must never forget the love is a word of action, in which the love you have for another (whether God, Jesus, or fellow man) is always demonstrated by outward action. The action itself isn’t love, but is an exemplification of love. The most well-known passage, 1 Corinthians 13, discusses much of that exemplification and is worth the reading.
- Love is grounded in God (1 John 4:19): Love must be grounded in God. As God is love, there is no ‘true’ love apart from Him.
- Love perfects (1 John 4:17-18): The love of God perfects a person. This does not mean that one is found to be sinless, but rather because of love, one no longer needs to fear judgment because they are found to be perfect before God.
- Love is evidenced in discipline (Hebrews 12:6): This is where many start to get off track. It is this point that is often neglected. The Lord disciplines those he loves, and likewise, discipline should be loved (Proverbs 12:1) because it corrects behavior and leads one towards righteousness.
- Love is evidenced through obedience (John 14:15): As love is action, obedience is the greatest evidence of love. As you love God, you will obey Him.
It is with this understanding that we must read Colossians 3:14. Paul has written about putting on the new garments of a new man. He concludes by stating above all of these characteristics, one must also put on love. It is not as though love is another garment to be added, but rather love could be described more as a belt that holds everything together. In fact, in Romans 13:10, Paul writes “love is the fulfilling of the law.” The fulfillment of the law occurs through love. It was the love of God that allowed us to become children of God. It was the love of God that flows through us to love others. It is the love of God that compels us to obedience of His law. Thus, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Using love to hold everything, all of the other characteristics clothe the entirety of the person, therefore are always part of the lifestyle. As such, Paul writes that these produce unity. If love is genuine, truly grounded in God, it will result in true unity. Like love, unity does not mean to a simple tolerance, but also includes accountability with one another in order to stimulate growth in Christlikeness, pushing one another towards righteousness.
Examination & Application of the Text: When love is the belt of one’s wardrobe, it characterizes every aspect of that person’s life. It characterizes attitude. It characterizes relationships. It characterizes interactions. If discipline and rebuke is done in love, it is seen through the compassion and kindness seen in verse 12. Likewise, when discipline and rebuke is received in love, it is received in humility and patience (also in verse 12). In this type of attitude, unity is achieved as all work together as one body, for the glory of God alone.
“Love is the beauty of the believer, dispelling the ugly sins of the flesh that destroy unity.” Therefore, it is love that we must use to bind everything together with. As love is poured into our own lives, we must pour it out on others. Recognizing the love that God has lavished on us undeservedly, and continues to do so, the only right response can be one of love to others. This is the evidence of the fulfillment of love as seen through obedience to Him. May it be our prayer to love one another as He has loved us.
 John MacArthur Jr., Colossians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 156.