Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
In the above passage, Paul continues to describe what this “new life” in Christ looks like as we relate to one another. Here, Paul instructs believers to “bear with each other and forgive…as the Lord forgave you.” The virtues mentioned in verse twelve are at once given practical application. To “bear with each other” carries with it the thought of restraining your natural reaction towards difficult people. One thing I have learned from thirty years of vocational ministry is that there will always be difficult people around. How we respond to difficult people reflects the preeminent Christ in our lives.
Paul then instructs us to forgive one another. This may seem like a no-brainer, but forgiveness can be very difficult at times. In our flesh, we like to hold onto old hurts and wounds. This keeps us from releasing our pain to God. We like to exercise pain management. We want to be in control. This means that we are failing to trust God with our pain. We have all been here. The important thing to realize is that when we fail to forgive others, the only one we are hurting is ourselves. The “new man” forgives others because he has been forgiven by Christ!
Then, Paul pulls it all together in verse fourteen: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.” Love is the first virtue mentioned in Paul’s list of the “Fruit of the Spirit” mentioned in Galatians chapter five. Love is Christ’s prevailing attribute. If this is true of Christ, then it must also be true of His followers. These other virtues, pursued without love, become distorted and unbalanced. When love has its full effect in the community of believers, it will result in peace.
In his commentary on the book of Colossians, N.T. Wright writes, “The peace which is to characterize the church is not to be a mere outward absence of hostility. It is to be the peace of Christ, which must become the deciding factor in your hearts: whatever disagreements or mutual suspicions occur in the church, they are to be dealt with at the deepest level, by all parties allowing the fact of their unity in Christ to settle the issue in their hearts.” Paul then adds one more virtue to the list; thankfulness. Love, peace, and gratitude reinforce each other. All three must be present if Christ is to be glorified in His church.
Paul then wraps up this section with a broad summary of what he has written: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” If you like simple, here it is. Paul gives us an easy principle to apply to our lives. Whatever we do or say should reflect the preeminent Christ who saved us by His grace. In everything we say and do, we should seek to honor and glorify Christ by demonstrating His attributes to a lost world. The holy living that Paul describes in chapter three cannot be accomplished through self-will or self-effort. This new way of living is the result of surrendering our will and our ways to God. When we allow the Spirit of God to take control, the result is a life that glorifies God.
Questions to Ponder
Are you able to bear with and forgive others? Do you struggle to forgive others? If so, why? Have you experienced the height and depth of God’s love for you? Do you love others well? Do love, peace, and gratitude mark your life? How does your life glorify Christ?
- Thank the LORD for clothing us with the robe of righteousness and garment of salvation.
- Praise our Provider for the free gift of eternal life and His Indwelling Holy Spirit that enables us to walk in the light. Thank Him for His on-going open arms that invite us to come to Him, ask for help, lean on Him, and draw all our strength, wisdom, and knowledge from Him.
- Praise the Prince of Peace, who is also the Lifter of our head, who upholds all things and upholds each one of us.
- Pray for those hurting now. Lift up those battling COVID-19. Pray for medical workers. Lift up those frustrated because of limitations in our state and world. Pray for those with challenging relationships, those struggling emotionally, financially, those mourning, and those far from the LORD. Pray for His love to abound in and through each of us and every situation in our beloved church family. Pray as we remain rooted and grounded in Him and enjoy His daily fellowship, shepherding heart, help, healing, and counsel that we will also know Him better as our Sustainer, Helper, hope of glory, and our Rock. He is immovable, committed, and will remain with us through it all. He will even bring good out of our hurt for we love Him and are His.
Lord of heaven and earth, come now and sustain my weary heart and others’ hearts who may feel the same. Enable us all to fix our eyes and heart on You, LORD, and Your eternal purposes. As You shepherd us into green pastures to restore our soul, I ask that we all would grow in our intimate walk and communion with You. Let Your peace overflow from each one of us regardless of what is happening around us in our world.
Overwhelm us once again with Your majesty, beauty, power, and glory. Lead each of us by Your faithful love to remember all that You are and all that You have done for us and will continue to do in and through us all. We are all so richly blessed to be Yours!
Oh God, I am asking for forgiveness to rise up in and among your servants. Let Your grace and mercy follow us and those we come into contact with. As You, Christ, dwell in each of us richly and as iron sharpens iron, I pray we will teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. Cause Your love to abound in and through Your church individually and corporately. We want to grow up in love and humility. Let us overflow in the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to You, oh God, as You tabernacle within each of us by Your abiding presence.
Lastly, I ask that whatever we do, whether in word or deed, that we do it all in the name of You, our Lord Jesus, and that we will give thanks to You, God the Father, through Him. Glorify Your Son in and through Your church. I ask in the name of the Great I Am, our soon-coming King, Jesus Christ. Amen.