“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. Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:13-14
When I was growing up, my two older brothers often had to “put up with me” hanging around them and their friends. As the youngest, I struggled to keep up. I’d always fall behind them. The two oldest were obliged to bear with me as I learned to follow in their steps. They had to tolerate my silly questions, my slow pace and my lack of understanding. I eventually matured. I could keep up with them, but as their little brother, they had to be patient and bear with me. I was part of the family, and family members sometimes have to simply “put up with” one another.
Paul tells the church at Colossae to bear with one another. In a church family, there’s always people that may do things out of immaturity, ignorance or simply, who can’t keep up. As in any family, it’s our obligation to bear with and help them. A congregation is full of people with a variety of ideas, opinions and perspectives. It’s easy to allow such multiplicity to create division or disunity. Although it may be easy, we cannot allow our individual uniqueness to obscure the love we’ve been given in Jesus Christ.
Our bearing with one another has a purpose. Our bearing with one another highlights the Gospel to each other and to the watching world. We bear and forgive others, because Christ has forgiven us. If we’re unwilling to bear with others, why expect God to bear with us? If we are unwilling to forgive others, why expect God to forgive us? When we put on the love of Christ, we bear with one another and forgive one another. Instead of thinking about the struggle of having to put up with each other, think about the precious opportunity to magnify Jesus Christ’s love. He bears with us in our fight against sin, so we also must bear with others in their struggle with sin.
Beloved, we cannot allow dissension to fester in our church family. We cannot harbor bitterness towards one another. We’re a family. Every family bears with each other. So let’s us not look at what divide us, but what unites us. We all have been purchased with a price. 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Let us resolve to walk in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ by bearing with one another. Put on love for it, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing.” That bearing and enduring love will bind us together in perfect harmony.