Colossians 3:13 (NIV): Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Forgive as God forgives? Willingly, repeatedly, completely? This can feel impossible.
Perhaps what amazes me most is that the Lord forgives joyfully. Hebrews 12:2 says, “for the joy set before him he endured the cross . . .” His gladness astounds me because I tend to doubt God’s approval and acceptance of me. How wonderful that despite ugly behavior, our messes and mistakes, our good-hearted Father continues to see the precious child he created and pronounces this creation good. His loving affection is not something that ever was or ever can be earned.
If we are to forgive like God, the idiom “grin and bear it,” is not exactly what Paul meant when he wrote “bear with each other . . .” (Col. 3:13) The whiner, the blunt critic, the person who always has to be right—who is that irritant in your personal oyster shell? Imagine God saying, “This person you find so difficult—I happen to be very fond of her!”
Sometimes it’s difficult to see anything good in someone who has hurt us deeply, to see that underneath all the distortions of sin, he or she possesses inherent and unique God-given attributes. The wounds remain too all-consuming.
It can take years to work through layers of pain, and it must be said that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Accountability and wise boundaries are always appropriate. Nevertheless, it can be a sign of healing when we truly glimpse God’s heart for the offender. As Ruth Chou Simmons writes, “We call it forgiveness when we’ve ‘moved on,’ but I think forgiveness is when you let tenderness ‘move in.’”
Lord, teach us to forgive like you so that our hearts may become joyfully free. Amen.
Published with Lifesprings International, 4/6/21.