Having laid the broad and sure foundation that his readers have come into newness of life based on shared faith in Christ, having put aside prejudices for Christ’s sake in order to find that their focus and goal is “things above,” so that they may clothe themselves in the fruit of the Spirit, Paul is about to get practical. Now it gets down to where we live. His next exhortation is that we should:
“Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” Colossians 3:13
Of the 14 or so Greek words translated for “bear” in the New Testament, Paul here chose anechomai, defined as: “to hold up against a thing and so to bear with it.” I absolutely love the honesty of this word. He might have chosen kinder words for “bear” including ones that imply bearing one another’s burdens or even lovingly bearing one another through hard times. While those words are certainly used elsewhere, Paul here dives from the sublime (set your eyes on things above) to the harsh realities of living together in our fallen state-- with the clear admonition to put up with one another. If we are honest, isn’t that sometimes our biggest challenge in the Body of Christ, the Church?
Each of us has an inner compass that drives us to be gods of our own little lives. Each little god has a will, desire and designs of its own. It should come as little surprise that our little gods do not always get along so well. When the will, desires and designs of our little gods collide, we have conflict. Without grace and Spirit, there is chaos. To the degree that we allow “the peace that comes from Christ” to “rule in (our) hearts” there is unity of purpose. Just as we have been forgiven by God, we are to forgive one another whatever grievances we may have against one another. See “Love and Remembering Wrongs” in this blog for what I hope is a fair and realistic view of forgiveness.
The implication of what Paul is saying about bearing with one another, in context, is this:
In light of all that Christ has done for you and given you (new and eternal life, eternal rewards and the assistance of Spirit in this life) put aside everything that is petty. By comparison, whatever grievances we have with one another are not worth holding onto. Let them go!
There is room for only One on the throne of your life. If we clutter it with grievances, sins or material concerns, there is no room for Him there. And where there is no room for Him, there is no room for his peace. The choice is yours… choose wisely!
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15