On Doing Things Bonnily
George H. Morrison
1 Peter 2:12
That word conversation, as we all know, has a different meaning on our lips from that which it bears in Holy Scripture. Words are like men and have their history, and sometimes the history leads upward, and sometimes it moves down to meaner things. Conversation on our lips just means talk; in the Bible it means the life behind the talk-the general course and tenor of the life, the way that a man has of doing things. Then the word honest, while including honesty, has suggestions that honesty does not convey. It is not the Greek equivalent for honest; it is the Greek word for beautiful. And so an old Scottish saint and scholar, who was always discovering charming things in Scripture, used to say that what this text means is, Do things bonnily.1 That is to say, it is not enough to do things if you are seeking to commend the Lord. You may do the right things in the wrong way. You may do them in a way that causes pain. The mark of the follower of the Lord Jesus is that whatever he has to do in life, like his Lord, he tries to do it bonnily.
That our Lord expected this of His disciples is seen clearly in the gospel story. For instance, think of what He said of fasting (Matt. 6:16). When hypocrites fast, said the Lord, they do it in an ugly way. Not only do they obtrude their sadness, they make a practice of disfiguring their faces. And the word for disfigure in the Greek is a very interesting word; it means to dim the luster so that the beauty vanishes away. A fasting hypocrite was not a bonny sight, and he did not want to be a bonny sight. He wanted men to know that he was fasting, and he conveyed the information by his ugliness, just as hypocrites to this hour try to show they are "fasting from the world" by deliberate rejection of the beautiful.
Now Jesus, for all His geniality, knew the moral necessity for fasting. He knew that, for natures such as ours, occasional fasting is imperative. His aim was n ...
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