Colossians 3:13 - Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
In my last post, I discussed the picture of forgiveness, which was Christ requesting forgiveness of his enemies up on the cross. Today, we will discuss the charge of forgiveness.
Colossians 3:12 gives us our status in Christ. We are chosen by God, holy and dearly loved. As a result, we ourselves should take on the characteristics of: compassionate hearts, mercy, humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience. The actions of verse 13 are actually results of what happens in verse 12. Because of our status in Christ, once we have put on His characteristics, the result that follows is that we bear with one another and forgive one another. When looking at the Greek definition of the word "to bear", some the English equivalents are, "to regard with tolerance", "to endure", and "to put up with" (BDAG). The word picture that comes to mind is of a horse that has a fly buzzing all around him and all the horse does is wiggle his ears a little, never swashing the fly with its tail!
I think that sometimes, we as Christians, think that every moment together is to be a campfire "kumbaya" moment. However, the Apostle Paul knew better and warned us for those other times. As the Body of Christ, we are still imperfect people, redeemed by the blood of Christ. We still possess qualities of our sinful nature and we sometimes allow them to get the better of us. However, when others mistreat us, we are first to bear with one another.
The second thing we are to do as a result of the characteristics of Christ we have taken on in our lives is we are to forgive one another freely. The Greek word used here gives the picture of graciously forgiving a wrongdoing (BDAG). In other words, it is not a half-hearted spoken, "I forgive you," but a full extension of grace and love made by the person who had been wronged. This is hard for many because our nature desires to sulk, gossip, and stay wounded. For, in that state, there is attention. However, the attention should not be on us, but on Christ. Therefore, the longer we wallow in unforgiveness, the longer we misrepresent Jesus. Verse 13 ends with the picture of Christ. Just as Jesus willingly and freely forgave you, so you also willingly and freely forgive.
The Challenge today is to examine the characteristics listed in Colossians 3:12-13. What characteristics do you need to "put on?" Ask God to help you in these areas. Also, list the people in your life that you need to bear with and freely forgive. Think about how Jesus forgave you and use that as a stepping stone in your journey.