Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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.
Bearing with one another is hard. I get so irritated with people. Someone parks too close to my car in the parking lot. A customer service person ignores my multiple attempts to get her attention. My teenager talks back. No one comes to the table when I tell them dinner is ready. Some stranger next to me at the movies is scrolling facebook while the movie is playing. I could spend the next ten pages listing out examples of people who irritate me.
But God is telling me to forgive those people just as the Lord has forgiven me. So, how do I do that? The answer is in that second part, “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Forgiveness is the most beautiful example of God’s love, and the testimony of forgiveness tells the one forgiven that Jesus also wants to forgive them. It’s like becoming an ambassador of God’s forgiveness.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20
I’m not making this stuff up! We are supposed to be representing Christ to a lost and broken world. Does that mean we can’t be irritated? I don’t think so. I think it just means we don’t act on those feelings, but instead act on the righteousness of Christ that we have become. We need to represent Jesus and His forgiveness. How else will people know His love?
Forgiving irritating people is hard enough. What about forgiving people who have hurt you? How do you forgive a rapist? How do you forgive a murderer? How do you forgive yourself? These are harder questions, but the answer is still the same.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Love is hard. Really, really hard. But representing Christ by forgiving people is what makes His love most known.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Without love, we show the world nothing. It is the ultimate embodiment of who God is and what He has done for us. To share the love of Christ with the world, we must love the world. And if we love the world, we must forgive just as Christ forgave us.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
In the fullness of every Believer in Christ, is the Spirit of the Living God. He is capable of doing more and more than we could ever even fathom. As Ephesians 3:20 says, “He is able to immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His great power at work within us”.
God doesn’t ask us to forgive on our own. He knows we aren’t capable of that. That’s why He gave us His Spirit: to seal us as His own and to help us do the impossible. It’s not by Power, Not by Might, but by the Spirit!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We have a promise from God to be able to forgive. He doesn’t expect us to do it on our own. We’re not alone. We have the Spirit of the Living God pulsing through us. And God can and does forgive all who would accept it. Therefore, we can too.
Jesus, teach me to forgive. Give me the power and courage to trust You to help me forgive people. Help me forgive myself. Help me to testify to Your love through forgiveness. It’s so hard, God. But You have promised me that I can do all the things You ask of me because of Your power at work within me. So, help me get out of the way so You can work, God. Help me put aside pettiness and insecurity and anger, so that Your pure love and forgiveness can be channelled through me. Shine Your light through me, Father. Amen.