Originally Printed at www.theologicalinklings.blogspot.com on March 12th, 2014
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.
I was just thinking about this today. When we don't forgive, we trap ourselves in a place of not experiencing forgiveness. When we hold anger and resentment in our heart, our heart begins to experience an ever increasing share of hurt.
Why is that so?
When we are unwilling to forgive someone else for their shortcomings and sins against us we are subtly telling ourselves that forgiveness and grace is unobtainable. There is in each of us sin and brokenness. Honest appraisal of our own sin leads us to recognize that what we are angry, or, hurt by, from others is rarely(if ever) as dark as what is in our own hearts. And, if that person is not forgivable, then we must not be either.
As we begin to believe that we are unforgivable, next we think we are unlovable. And as we process that lie it shapes our actions. If we are unforgivable and unlovable, who really cares what we do, leading us to act more in alignment with unforgivable and unlovable actions. It becomes a viscous cycle that slowly kills us inside.
The dependent clause of this statement in Colossians is that YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. That no matter what you have done, no matter how far you have fallen, no matter how dirty your sins, you are loved. The "must also" follows as being a natural response to the change in your heart. You don't forgive so that you are forgiven, BECAUSE you are forgiven, you can forgive. And you will!
The bearing with one another is a great realistic picture of what life is really like. The claim in Colossians isn't that the people in your life are just so forgivable, it is that they are just like you, sinners, who need forgiveness. And sinners who can be frustrating. So, out of grace and forgiveness we "bear" with them, even when they are causing us problems. If you read this whole passage in the context of what it is saying; You are forgiven, so bear with one another and give forgiveness.
It is all tied together as a mutually dependent experience initiated by Christ. As you accept that you are forgiven, you, at the same time learn to be forgiving. And the reverse is true, if we refuse to be forgiving, we are acting out a heart that says that we are not ourselves forgiven. When we refuse to bear with one another, we are saying we are someone who is unlovable and incapable of being "beared" with ourselves.
So keep in mind this simple truth: You are LOVED and FORGIVEN. Christ freely offers to love us and forgive us right where we are. Full of dirt, resentment, sin, destruction, pain. And when we stop fighting that, and start embracing that, everything about our lives radically changes. ESPECIALLY our relationships with those in our lives.
Know that you are forgiven so that you can love each other well.