In Colossians 3:13 Paul writes, “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.”
When I think of bearing with one another, I tend to think of putting up with someone. When I was growing up and we had to do something that I didn’t really want to do, I was supposed to grin and bear it. And when someone is talking about or doing something boring or tiresome they might say “bear with me.” So along those lines, when I hear the phrase “bearing with one another,” I get the image of putting up with one another.
However, I think Paul is challenging us to do more than just put up with one another. I think he is challenging us to choose to be in relationship with one another regardless of how comfortable or easy that relationship might be. I believe that “bearing with one another” is a choice to make the relationship important enough that we will work at it.
I think in typical church society today it is easy for us to have the kind of relationships where as long as things are good, we are good, but as soon as things get tough we drop the relationship. We do that because it is easier to drop the relationship than to bear with one another and make it work when it is no longer easy.
And that means that we need to forgive one another. We need to be willing to let go of the stuff that separates us, and stop being offended so easily. Sometimes we can be so petty that it seems like we are just looking for people to offend us. We need to have thicker skin and assume the best about one another.
And then when real problems come up or when there is a legitimate complaint, we need to be willing to make things right. We need to seek and grant forgiveness and do everything we can to work things out so that our relationships stay intact.
Let’s face it, if we are really going to go as deep with one another as we are talking about. If we are really going to develop that level of intimacy, then we are going to annoy one another and step on each other’s toes. And if we are not committed to making this relationship work, or if we are not willing to forgive, then we are going to just give up and walk away.
And notice also what Paul says in verse 16: 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
There is something incredible that is happening when we are together. It is supernatural. As followers of Christ we have the Holy Spirit alive inside of us and so when we talk with one another, we have the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to allow us to communicate on a whole different level. When we share our struggles with someone else from church we are not just relying upon their ability to understand our problem or give us advice from some great life lesson that they have learned. We are providing an opportunity for God to speak to us through one another.
We need to understand that church is God’s gift to us. He has brought us together to make our lives here on earth better as we help one another follow him and walk through this life together. Let’s put a priority on these relationships and be the church he is calling us to be.