Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
The social media powerhouse Twitter created a platform where people all over the world express opinions in short sound bites. In recent years, however, this formula has become more complex as individuals have begun to leverage Twitter as a tool to reprimand others for attitudes and lifestyles they disagree with. Log on to the platform on any given day, and you’ll find the name of at least one person “trending.” Click on that name, and you’ll find millions of people expressing opinions about whatever controversy has emerged.
We’ve learned to publicly criticize everything from the beliefs people hold to the clothes they wear. The reality, however, is that a critical and unloving attitude doesn’t align with who God has called us to be as believers in Jesus. While there will be times when we have to deal with disagreement, the Bible reminds us that as believers we’re to always conduct ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Instead of being harshly critical, even of our enemies, God urges us to “bear with each other and forgive one another if [we have] a grievance” (v. 13).
This treatment isn’t limited to the people whose lifestyles and beliefs we agree with. Even when it’s difficult, may we extend grace and love to everyone we encounter as Christ guides us, recognizing that we’ve been redeemed by His love.
Consider a time when you were quick to criticize a friend or a stranger. What was the result? What could you have done differently to honor God and the individual?
Heavenly Father, I know I fall short of Your glory every day. Thank You for Your unconditional love. Help me strive to be more like You by being patient and gentle with others.
Love and unity are constant themes throughout the New Testament, and Paul highlights both concepts in Colossians. In 3:11, Paul pointed out how believers in Jesus enjoy an unprecedented unity. This is a radical unity that totally disregards traditional barriers of class and ethnic division. Instead, “Christ is all, and is in all.” Such unity is to live itself out in a radically different way: in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (v. 12). Never has this counsel been more appropriate than today. Instead of rancorous disagreement, we’re to “bear with each other” (v. 13). This implies a patient understanding of others that grows out of an awareness that we’re not without fault either. Such self-awareness enables us to empathize with those with whom we disagree. Paul concludes: “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (v. 14).