Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;…
The fundamental idea of kindness is ascertained by tracing the connection between kindred or kin and kindness. The latter is the feeling natural to us in relation to our own kind.
1. Take the innermost circle of kindred, the home, and that which constitutes its sweetness is kindness. Unkindness, then, is most unnatural. In German and Dutch the word for child is kind. Kindness was first of all the relation of a child to its parents, and then the feeling of a parent for a child. That was the original and architypal kindness, is its ever present and undying element, and gives character and tone to all the more extended instances of kindness which ripple out with the extension of our kinship.
2. Though our kindred begins in our homes it does not end there. We have remoter relatives to whom it is our duty, and the prompting of our natures, to be kind. Our nation consists of individuals who are of our own kind, and we ought to be kindly towards them all. And then our kith and kin are found in colonies, and the parent state should always feel kindly towards them, and when any colony grows into an independent nation, like the United States of America, it would be a calamity and a sin if kindliness on either side were to cease.
3. The family relationship extends farther than to those who manifest their kinship by the use of the common mother tongue, embalmed in the English Bible. The Dutch and Germans are our cousins, so are the Danes; and there was a time when the Greeks also, and the Romans belonged to the same family circle. Their ancestors came from the same paternal home in Asia from which our ancestors came; and so with the Hindoos, and hence the old old words which are common to the now diverse languages.
4. Indeed, all the nations are kindred to each other. All the families of the earth belong to the great family of man — mankind; hence all owe kindness to one another. Hence Peter exhorts us to add to our godliness brotherly kindness. Some think it more difficult to attain the former than the latter. In some respects it is, in others not: and so the apostle urges us to seek the latter by way of the former. In mere speculation we might have supposed that man must first climb to the terrestrial thing — "brotherly kindness" — and thence ascend to the celestial. But the reverse is the true and better order. We must first get right with God the Father — then, and not till then, shall we get right with man the brother.
(J. Morison, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;