In today’s article, I want to spend some time talking about how we treat each other. I am sure you know that we are called to emulate Jesus Christ in every aspect of our life. We are called to show love, grace, and mercy to everyone, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ. How we treat each other is so important that the New Testament deals with it often.
For example, Paul says in Ephesians 4:31–32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (ESV).
The problem with this passage is not understanding what it means. The problem is that we forget (conveniently, I would add) that it applies to us. Jesus expects us to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just like God is doing for us. And yet, when someone says something we don’t like we get upset. We can be quick to forgive and overlook mistakes in ourselves, even total strangers, but let a brother or sister hurt our feelings and we will hold a grudge. Let someone’s child distract us from the lesson and we totally forget the gift of grace we so desperately want for ourselves. This one is my favorite: let someone express an idea about the bible or the faith that we don’t agree with and suddenly all those commands to love and be gracious to each other flies out the window.
As a church and individuals our goal should always be to extend God’s grace and forgiveness to everyone; especially those we don’t like or agree with. It should be one of the most attractive attributes of the Lord’s church. I am so thankful for God’s grace, thankful for his forgiveness and mercy because I know that I will need it. Therefore, I should be zealous for others to feel what we feel. We should want them to experience the acceptance and love, the mercy and forgiveness, that we cherish so deeply.
We all make mistakes! We all say or do things that will hurt someone else. I honestly think that we cannot avoid it but when it does happen we must be quick to forgive each other. I think that is why passages like Colossians 3:12-14 are so important to understand.
Colossians 3:12–14 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (ESV).
When we truly adopt these characteristics (put them on) into our life and faith, we will be willing to overlook a lot of mistakes. My goal is to challenge us all to love and forgive each other. If someone says something that hurts us we should extend the same characteristics that we would want for ourselves.
If Jesus can ask for our forgiveness from the cross (Luke 23:33-34), then surely we can love and forgive each other.