Bearing with each other

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
- Colossians 3:13

Last week we looked at Paul’s work to point to a third way between the law and the flesh: the way of the Spirit. In marriage and other committed relationships, we often find ourselves feeling like we only have two choices: stick with the person or bail out on them. But there’s another way available to those who will walk with the Spirit.

In today’s passage, Paul calls his readers to “bear with each other.” “Bearing with” is very different from “sticking with.” It’s the difference between love and tolerance. And it’s remarkably difficult to do without God’s help.

Because we are secure in our relationship with Jesus, we are freed up to not need people in the desperate, validate-my-identity, I’m-nothing-without-you kind of way that traps us in unhealthy relational patterns.

We still need people. You can’t “bear with each other” if you’re all alone. The Christian life is not an isolated life. But when we’re free to be with people without looking for them to meet all of our deepest needs, we’re free to love them and bear with them through even the most difficult seasons.

We find it so interesting here that Paul immediately links the work of “bearing with” with the need to forgive. People hurt each other. And hurt people hurt people. If you’re bearing with someone during a hard time, chances are you will acquire some wounds in the process. We’ll talk more about forgiveness tomorrow, but it’s important to note it here.

The only way to bear with someone over the long haul is to forgive them moment-by-moment. Don’t let the weight of legitimate offenses stack up. Forgive today so you can bear with people when they need your support.

Who are you called to “bear with” during this season? What might you need to forgive in order to continue to “bear with” them?

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