bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.Colossians 3:13(NASB)
Paul presents us with some important doctrinal issues on the superiority and pre-eminence of Christ and the sufficient strength He gives to each one of us, day by day.
He encourages all who are in Christ to stand fast in this evil day. He warns us against the various, destructive philosophies of the world and describes the practical conduct that should be outwardly manifest in each one of our lives - from a heart that is walking in spirit and truth.
He sets out the believer's duty towards Christ Jesus, Who is the image of the invisible God and our eternal Saviour. He lists the praiseworthy behaviours that should be exhibited in the life of a godly man or a virtuous woman... for in Christ, we have sufficient strength to resist the multiplied deceptions of the world system.
Paul also talks about putting off the old Adamic life, which is dead in sins and at enmity with God, and putting on the new life in Christ where we are covered in His own righteousness. And he exhorts us to set our affections on things that are above and not on things of the earth.
As God's children, we are to clothe ourselves in the many virtues of God's holy, elect people - tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, and patient endurance. And in this verse we read the following important instructions, "Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference against another or some grievous complaint, we are to readily pardon each other; just as the Lord has freely forgiven us."
Our forbearance and forgiveness towards one another should reflect God's gracious forbearance and generous forgiveness towards us - in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God's forbearance and forgiveness is full, free, and forever, and we should follow the pattern Christ set when He graciously forgave us.
Forbearing with one another describes patiently enduring the faults and failings of others in a kind, gracious, and godly manner. It is putting up with the inevitable idiosyncrasies and fluctuating attitudes of our brothers and sisters, with a spirit of gentleness and grace - understanding and patient endurance.
We are to forgive one another generously, unhesitatingly, and without holding a grudge, for unforgiveness can lead us into a range of ungodly responses like anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and other ungodly responses - all of which Paul warned against, earlier in this chapter.
But the greatest of all incentives towards godly forgiveness of others is rooted in the truth that God forgave us freely and forever. He forgave our sin - past, present, and future, for Christ's sake. He forgave each one of us of all our wrongdoing and we, in turn, are to follow His godly example.
God has promised that He will remember our sins no more. God has promised that as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sin from us... and we, in turn, should reflect His grace by bearing with one another, forgiving each other, and demonstrating mercy towards anyone who has a complaint against us - just as the Lord forgave us, so we also should forgive.
Heavenly Father, thank You that I have been forgiven of all my sins and declared to be righteous, by faith in Your dearly beloved Son. I have not always been ready to forgive those that have hurt or injured me, but thank You for freely forgiving me of my sin unconditionally and forever. May I increasingly show forbearance and forgiveness towards my fellow man and readily pardon all who have hurt or harmed me. Develop in me a spirit of gentleness that shows the love of Christ to all with whom I come in contact, and may my life become a reflection of the beautiful love of Christ, Who died so that all who believe in Him might live. Praise Your holy name for all Your goodness and grace towards the children of men. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.