“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.” Colossians 3:13-14
Paul wrote this letter to the church at Colossae, a place he had never visited. That church had been founded by other Christians who had allowed the infiltration of paganism and secular philosophy. The theme of Paul’s letter is that Jesus Christ is the supreme authority. He wanted the people in the Colossian church—along with all of us—to live in loving harmony with one another. He said God forgave us; therefore, we should forgive others. So, here we are 2,000 years later, and the same problems today plague us in one way or another.
People betray our trust, try to damage our reputation, steal from us, and even do us physical harm. These actions all cause deep personal pain. We are faced with the age-old question: How do we get over the pain? How can we ever forgive those who caused us such harm? Shouldn’t there be a penance for the transgression that person committed? Does the person who offended you even want forgiveness? The act of forgiveness not only benefits the offended but the offender.
Forgiving is not easy. We may feel embarrassed, angry, injured, or disappointed by another’s actions and those feelings won’t go away. They weigh us down. Carrying the baggage of bitterness and anger can be oppressive and even destroy our outlook on life. How can we ever show love to the person who treated us so cruelly? For the answer we need to turn to the Bible and see what Christ did. Colossians 3:13-14 continues the message of Ephesians 4:32 which reads, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Follow Christ’s example.
How did God deal with our transgressions? He gave his only Son to be crucified to redeem our sins. He repeatedly forgives us. How, then, can we as followers of Christ withhold the same forgiveness from those who have wronged us? We shouldn’t withhold it! In Christian love, God calls us to extend that same forgiveness to those who have hurt us. God’s love can flow through us to others, even to those who have wronged us. We can become examples of agape love to the world as we put others’ needs before our own. God’s love and forgiveness are unconditional; shouldn’t ours be also?