Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Col 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (13) bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (14) And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
We necessarily talk much here about how the wicked twist Scriptures on the subject of forgiveness. And we talk about righteous anger and how it is right and good to yearn for the Lord’s justice upon evildoers.
But what I would like us to think about here is how we as real Christians must relate to one another. Especially when we have differences or when we sin or perceive that we have been sinned against by a fellow believer.
You know the feeling. That pit in your stomach when you are afraid that you have offended a friend by something you said or did that perhaps was wrongly perceived. This fear can be the result of being blamed, shamed, accused, alienated, and isolated by someone like a reviler/abuser/sociopath/narcissist. It has happened so often, right? Relationships destroyed. Dumped. Abandoned. Rejected. Blamed. By family members, children, one-time friends. These things are the work of the evil ones who want to isolate us and control us and punish us for not adequately worshipping them.
But with this kind of toxic history, we can easily become relationship “gun-shy.” When is the next person going to turn and abandon us? When are we going to say or do something “wrong” and that’s the end of that? This thing can haunt us. It’s one reason abuse victims often habitually say, “sorry, I’m sorry….sorry…sorry.”
When we who are real, authentic Christians think that another believer has said something that seemed hurtful, or has done something that offended us, we need to be slow to take offense. I hope that whenever I write something in this blog that offends a reader, or that when I say something in a sermon or Bible study that rubs someone the wrong way, that they will not just convict and dump me. We have all had waaaayyy too much of that dumping, right?
In the best of relationships between real brothers and sisters in Christ, there will sometimes be friction, or most of the time perceived friction because of something said or done or not done. I mean, I can mention that I enjoy hunting and fishing and shooting and……whatever – and suddenly someone is done with me. Or I can mention that I approach the book of Revelation through an amillennial lens, and another person casts me away for being a “liberal.” I can say something I think is funny, but someone is offended – and once again the dump truck dumps the relationship. These things ought not to be among brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a terrible crippling thing to have to live in the fear of waiting for the next rejection blow to fall and we must do everything we can to help one another conquer that fear by extending safety in Christ to one another.
We who are in Christ ought not to have to fear these things from one another. We should be able to be comfortable in Christ’s flock – even when we receive some valid criticism which is meant for our good. Because, after all –
Col 3:12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (13) bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.