Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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.”
We who are followers of Jesus Christ are still human beings. We still live in flesh bodies. And so we still have a propensity to sin, and we are still tempted to sin. And if we are not armored up spiritually, and so we let our guards down, we may respond to certain situations in the flesh and not in the Spirit, and we may say or do things that hurt other people, even fellow believers in Christ. Or we may be the ones who have gotten hurt by other people’s words or actions which we believed were against us.
So, when these things take place, what should our response be? If at all possible we should try to reconcile with those we have hurt and/or who have hurt us. First we must forgive the other person, even if we believe the other person was in the wrong. And if we were in the wrong we should extend our sincere apologies and seek forgiveness from the other person. And then we need to forgive which means that we hold no animosity in our hearts toward the other person and we do not seek revenge but reconciliation.
And instead of animosity and aloofness and distancing ourselves from our fellow Christians we show them love and compassion and kindness. And we are willing to humble ourselves and to have others think badly of us if they are not willing to forgive us for whatever wrong we may have done or that they may have perceived that we have done. For it isn’t always black and white and good and evil. Sometimes these situations are because of misunderstandings and people not willing to talk them through reasonably.
So, if we are the ones who did the wrong, then we need to do what is right to try to make it right. And if we are the ones who have been wronged, or we believe we have, then we need to forgive those who have hurt us and do what we know to do to try to reconcile. And then we need to put on love and kindness. And we need to demonstrate that love and kindness to those who we felt did us wrong. For if we hold on to unforgiveness it will eat away at us and it will destroy us from within.
Basically, if we are followers of Jesus Christ, in truth, we should be those who love even our enemies and who do good to people and not evil. So we should definitely not be at war with our fellow believers in Christ. We are not all going to always agree on everything. And we aren’t all going to always see things from the same perspective. Now I am not saying that we should tolerate or pacify sin. This is not about coddling people in their sin. But we can still love other people regardless of what they have done.
Colossians 3:14-15 ESV
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
Now God is love and love comes from God so love is truth and righteousness and holiness and godliness. It is kindness and forgiveness and humility and compassion. And it is moral purity and faithfulness and goodness and self-control. So love is action not just feelings. We can love others for whom we don’t have warm and emotional feelings. For love is based in who God is and not in who we are. So we can love even when we are hated and mistreated in return. For God loved us even while we were dead in our sins.
So, God is our model for how we are to love others. Now God is God so he has the authority and the power and the right to show vengeance against his enemies. And he doesn’t have to forgive everyone. For he will only forgive the truly penitent who obey him. But we are not God and so we have no right to exercise vengeance against others. And we have no right to not forgive others because of all that God has forgiven us when we were so undeserving of his grace and mercy.
But God loved us even while we were still living in sin, and he loved us enough to send Jesus Christ (the Son of God and God the Son) to die on that cross for our sins so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin and live holy lives pleasing to God. And this is how we need to love others. We must be willing to humble ourselves and accept people thinking evil of us, if that is the case, and if there is no way to change their thinking, in order to show them the love that comes from God who is love.
For remember that Jesus Christ was sinless, and so he did no wrong even though he was accused of much wrong. And he had enemies who were hounding him constantly trying to trip him up with his words so that they could find cause to accuse him of wrongdoing. Yet he willingly gave up his life for us on the cross because he loved us and so he wanted to free us from our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we could live in freedom from the control of sin and in righteousness and holiness.
So sometimes loving other people means sticking our necks out on the line for people to chop it off (not literally, but figuratively). It means we love even our enemies and even though we know they are plotting evil against us and even though we know they intend to do us evil and not good. Now we need to make certain this is true and that this is not just in our minds, but if we have real evidence that people are against us to do us harm, we are still supposed to love them and forgive them and do good to them.
There is a Redeemer
Melody Green / Keith Green
There is a redeemer, Jesus, God’s own son,
Precious lamb of God, Messiah, Holy one,
Jesus my redeemer, Name above all names,
Precious lamb of God, Messiah, Oh, for sinners slain.
When I stand in glory, I will see his face,
And there I’ll serve my king forever, In that holy place.
Thank you oh my father, For giving us your son,
And leaving your spirit, ’til the work on earth is done.
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