Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3: 12 – 14
One of the greatest lessons Jesus ever taught us was how we should treat others – “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Some people just aren’t easy to love, are they? And sometimes those we love can be thoughtless and hurtful. Yet, we are told to bear with each other and even more, to love each other. As God’s chosen and dearly loved people, we are to be an example of His goodness and grace. Through His grace we are changed and through His Spirit dwelling within us, we can be empowered to live the life He desires for us – with our words, our actions, and our attitudes.
An even greater lesson we can learn from Jesus came at the end of His life, as He taught us “to forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
In Luke 23:34, Jesus said these powerful words as people stood watching, sneering at him, taunting Him to save Himself, as He hung on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
In the midst of His pain, suffering, and the inhumane treatment He was receiving, He remembered to pray to His Father for those who had brought this upon Him. He asked His Father to forgive them. Can you even imagine such an act of forgiveness and love? Is there any greater love than to forgive someone who has caused you pain?
Sometimes it is simply not easy to forgive, but Christ has given us the power to do so; in fact, He commands it. When we refuse to do so, the bitterness grows within us, eats at us, and takes away so much joy that could have been ours. And even more importantly, as we remember the pain and suffering that Jesus went through in order to forgive us and cleanse us from our sin, how can we not forgive as He did? How can we expect Him to forgive us when we won’t forgive others?
In Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing about Grace? he writes, “At last I understood: in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out. I leave in God’s hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy.”
Not only does God command us to forgive someone who has caused us harm, but He tells us to love them as we do. “His love will always bind us together.” What better example of His grace to do so, than His prayer on the cross?
Our most gracious and loving Father, thank you for sending your Son to teach us how to love and forgive. We are so grateful for your redeeming grace. Amen