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 all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14
This is one of the most difficult things for many Christians to learn to do. First of all, we are instructed to live our lives filled with things that come from God. By our own strength, we can be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient to some degree. However, to really be able to possess all of these things and to turn to them more often requires help from the Creator – the source from which all of these gifts come.
Next, forgiveness is not natural. Our human nature drives us toward anger and revenge. We certainly struggle with patience and bearing with one another – it is far easier and in many ways more personally satisfying to either hold the grudge, seek revenge, or to simply ignore the person or the situation that is causing us strife. Even if we don’t go that far, we may find ourselves harboring feelings of offense. This can be even more hurtful; it’s minor, long lasting, and can quickly grow to greater levels of resentment, leading our focus away from our Lord. Maybe that’s another reason why God forgave us first. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” isn’t a guilt trip – it’s another example of God modeling the principles by which He wants us to live.
Finally, God asks us to wrap this all up in a unifying love. Unity in the world is a short-lived and highly complicated thing. We put many restrictions and requirements on others before we choose to unite and many unions remain tenuous – never solidifying and becoming the strong alliances that support and uplift in the way that God envisioned. Why do we limit love? Yesterday’s sin can set today schedule if we truly forgive. This isn’t to say that I should allow myself to be victimized repeatedly in the name of forgiveness. But where there is repentance and a willingness to let the Spirit of the Lord work within us there must also be restoration and maintenance of the relationship as God desires.
This may seem like God is asking a lot of us, but shift your paradigm a bit and you’ll discover this to be well within your capabilities. God has not only called us to be above the world in this matter, but that He has made it possible for us to do so as well. Our greatest efforts in these areas will always fall woefully short, but in God there is no failure. God’s desire is for us to live maximized lives; fulfilling our destinies and receiving every blessing extended from the throne of grace. He gives us the direction and then guides us along the way. We are thankful for what He has provided and continue pray diligently that we will not ignore the gifts or the guidance He is giving.
May the Father, whose love for you knows no limits, fill you with each of these three things that they may drive your actions throughout your life.