Thursday, October 25, 2012

Colossians 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Quick! Think of the person who most gets on your nerves! Some of you may have immediately had a name, image, or voice pop into your minds. Some may even have trouble narrowing down the list! According to this verse we must bear with each other - basically put up with each other! Reading from the previous verses we can assume this applies to the body of believers, but I would argue that if there is a non-Christian who irks you, God can change your heart toward that person as well. Obviously when you clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience it will be much easier to bear with others and forgive them.

We are to forgive as the Lord forgave us. So how did the Lord forgive us? He forgave us completely, casting our sins as far as the east is from the west. When we confess new sins he does not roll his eyes and say, "Seriously? Didn't we deal with this issue back in seventh grade?" He blots our our transgressions for His sake and remembers them no more. He even provided the sacrifice that would atone for our sins.

So how can we put this into practice? If there is someone in your life with whom you have trouble bearing, start by praying diligently for them. Examine your own heart to discern what it is that is bothering you so much. Sometimes people are just annoying, but often we can find sin in our own hearts that exacerbates the issue. At the least we are not seeing others the way God sees them.

If we are to forgive as the Lord forgave us, then we cannot keep score. When we forgive, we must truly forgive and let it go. This can be especially tough with family members or close friends, when an argument over a small thing can spiral into a throwdown over who has done the most wrong in the past decade. As Henry Ward Beecher said, "I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one."

We must even be willing to pay a price. Yes, we cannot atone for sins, but we may share in the punishment at times. For example, sometimes when my 3 year old son is in trouble for making a mess of his 6 year old sisters' things, she will not only forgive him but help him clean up. This is such a model of Christian forgiveness! Serving the ones we find most difficult to forgive and put up with is the best way to change our hearts and outlooks.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.  
- Ephesians 4:32

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