“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…” (Colossians 3:12, KJV)
Science tells us that the fifth week of fetal development is the time when the heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, and digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems begin to develop. In the Semitic world of the Bible, these core organs were considered to be the seat of the self, the parts of the human body that serve as a physical mirror of the psyche. In a sense, then, this developmental week is the time when a person acquires the uniquely human capacity for emotions that are reactive and relational.
Kidneys are mentioned more than thirty times in the Bible, but the brain – as an organ – is not mentioned a single time. When a person is suffering, he is “pricked in his kidneys” (Ps. 73:21); when he rejoices, his kidneys rejoice as well (Prov. 23:26). The kidneys were believed to be the site of the temperament, emotions, prudence and strength; and when God judges an individual, He examines the kidneys. (Garabed Eknoyan, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, The Kidneys in the Bible: What Happened? December, 2005)
The liver is synonymous with temper, disposition, and character. When Jeremiah expresses his profound grief with the words, he exclaims, “My liver is poured upon the earth, because of the destruction of the daughter of my people" (Lamentations 2:11).
The intestines are described as the seat of pain on account of sorrow, as well as the locus of sympathy and compassion. The Greek word, splaggnizomai, is defined as being “moved in one’s bowels” with pity and compassion, as when Jesus shared the grief of the mourners at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35), and when the Prodigal’s father first saw his son on the horizon (Luke 15:20).
The KJV translates Colossians 3:12 as: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…” The gift of the “bowels of mercy” is given as a trait unique to those who, walking in newness of life, will now reflect the image of El Rachum, The Compassionate God.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II declared the Sunday after Easter to be “Divine Mercy Sunday,” a day to contemplate the many ways God shows mercy to the world, to demonstrate a similar compassion ourselves by performing acts of mercy for our neighbors. No neighbor is more in need of our compassionate protection from the oppression of “choice” than the preborn among us; and the one-in-four post-abortive women and men need the forgiveness and mercy of God extended from the Body of Christ living among them. The Gospel compels us to “put on the bowels of mercy” to champion life!
“…the LORD your God is a compassionate God. He won't let you go, he won't destroy you, and he won't forget the covenant that he swore to your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 4:31 CEV