Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
In the above text, Paul instructs believers, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” One of the traits of authentic Christian community is the humility that allows believers to “bear with one another in love.” This phrase carries with it the thought of holding oneself back in the spirit of love. What Paul is saying is that those who are spiritually mature should show patience and consideration toward those who are not as mature spiritually. As the more mature brother or sister in Christ, we must seek what is in the best interest of others. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Burdens are those things that we all have in common. Burdens are common to the human family. Burdens are common to the spiritual family too. The Greek word for burden here is baros, meaning “something heavy.” J.V. McGee writes, “A load is only half a load when two are carrying it.” Baros also means “fault.” If a person is overtaken in a fault, this is their burden. We are being instructed by Paul to come up underneath those who are struggling with any kind of burden and to help carry the load. One of the traits of authentic Christian community is forbearance. Rather than be quick to judge and condemn, we are to “bear with one another in love.”
This does not mean that we turn a blind eye to sin. Instead, it means that we are committed to the spiritual growth of every member of the body of Christ. We must show equal concern for every member despite the burdens they are carrying. We must be patient with the struggling believer just as God is patient with us in our struggles. Of course, the only way we can do this is by being secure in our understanding of God’s love for us. When we embrace God’s love for us, we can then in turn love others the way that God loves them.
Unfortunately, forbearance is not always practiced in the church. Sometimes we are quick to judge and condemn those who are struggling with burdens. Some people’s faith has been shipwrecked because of the church’s failure to exercise forbearance. Authentic Christian community will excel at “bearing with one another in love.”
Questions to Ponder
Have you been hurt by the church’s inability to exercise forbearance? Are you quick to judge and condemn others? Do you naturally gravitate toward those who are struggling? What can you do to help carry someone else’s load right now? Are you patient with those who are struggling?
Spend some time in prayer meditating on what God revealed to you today.