“Put on then, as God’s Elect, holy and beloved, tender mercies, 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)
In this passage, Paul does not just tell the Colossians to act in a certain way. He tells them to do so as the elect of God.
The foundation of our behaviour is God’s electing love for us in Christ. That behaviour includes the way we talk about election. The church at Colosse was encouraged to see themselves as elect. Something they could not do unless there had been, in fact, an election.
Having received the good news that we are the subjects of divine election can lead to what one writer calls the “cage stage” – a time when the newly convinced “Calvinist” ought to be locked in a cage and not let out until he stabilises or until the medication kicks in.
This is because coming to the knowledge that we are the subjects of Divine Election has just as many temptations as thinking that we were somehow given salvation through our own deductive reasoning.
Temptations for the “Calvinist” include being harsh and dogmatic toward those we think, “should have worked it out by now”. It includes the temptation towards arrogance, imbalance and frustration in the way we speak to others about the Election by God of Sinners.
The young “Calvinist” is prone to being harsh; seeing anyone who has not figured it out as being on the verge of heresy. The believer who has hard his eyes open to see the joy of God’s Election apart from the will of man is liable to become imbalanced and forget that man is also responsible for his actions – including hte unloving actions of some “Calvinists”.
As always, we must affirm the whole of scripture. We must affirm Man’s guilt and responsibility and we must also affirm that the basis of our behaviour is the Loving Election of God. But affirming them is not enough. We are to adorn these affirmations of God’s Election with tender mercies.