Forbear, Forgive, and Let It Go!
In a time when it seems strife and confusion in our society are at an all-time high, believers should be feasting on the blessing of the peace of Christ in our hearts as we fix our eyes on Him. Jesus said to the disciples, and He is saying it to us today, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you…” (John 14:27).
But too often, even Christians get caught up in the turmoil of the world around them — and even frustration and strife in their personal lives. But God has made provision for us to walk in His peace at all times, no matter what is going on around us. It will take effort at times on our part, but it is worth the effort to live in this manner — not only for our own benefit, but also to honor the Lord who loves us and has forgiven us of so much.
Every day we encounter opportunities to get upset with people about something they said or did. If we let down our guard and indulge in these urges, we will live in a continual state of frustration and strife, and our spiritual lives will suffer dramatically. Sometimes it can be very difficult to convince our minds to overlook a slight — real or perceived — and to forgive the offender and move on with our lives. However, the Bible offers us a powerful strategy that can be used to cultivate peace in our relationships and in our own hearts and minds: We must to learn to extend grace to others and realize that we all make mistakes at times and disappoint those around us.
In Colossians 3:13, the apostle Paul wrote, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” This verse specifically outlines how we are to respond to people who frustrate or disappoint us. Since life is filled with such disappointments, it’s important for us to understand exactly what Paul meant when he wrote these words.
Paul began with the phrase, “Forbearing one another….” This word “forbearing” is from the Greek word anechomai, which means to endure one another; to put up with one another; or to have tolerance for one another. It is the exact opposite of acting intolerant, exasperated, or being short-tempered with people.
At some point along the way in life, we all become frustrated with our family, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances. In those moments, the most Christ-like attitude to demonstrate may simply be to show forbearance and let the grievance or aggravation go. That doesn’t mean we have to compromise our values or ignore an obvious problem; however, it does mean that sometimes taking the higher road means checking our hearts, shutting our mouths, and letting go of the offense or disappointment.
That’s why Paul expressed that sometimes forbearing or putting up with the people you interact with in life is the highest road you can take. So when your flesh gets offended or you find yourself wanting to nitpick about what you perceive to be someone’s failures, take some time to get quiet before God and ask Him what to do. It may be that His highest will in that situation is for you to simply show forbearance and let the matter go. Although loving confrontation is certainly needed at times, it is not always the right course to take.
Paul went on to say in Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another….” The word “forgiving” comes from the word charis, the Greek word for grace. It carries the idea of wholeheartedly forgiving, freely forgiving, or readily forgiving. This is a step beyond simply being forbearing; it requires our response to go to the next level as we choose to freely and wholeheartedly forgive with no restraints or strings attached. Just as God has extended His grace to us so many times by freely forgiving us of our sins against Him, now the Holy Spirit instructs you and me to extend forgiveness to those who have wronged or offended us.
In the latter part of this verse, Paul relayed the core of his message, saying, “…If any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” The word “quarrel” is a Greek word mamphe, which means a complaint or grievance against someone, and it usually depicts a complaint that is backed with solid evidence.
Think about that! Perhaps someone failed to do what you expected him to do, or acted in a manner that was below your expectations of him. Regardless of what you know this person did wrong or what “quarrel” you have with him, the Bible commands you to forgive “even as Christ forgave you.” And isn’t it true that this is exactly what Christ did for you?
In light of how graciously God has forgiven us, it’s difficult for me to imagine why any of us would refuse to forgive someone else for an offense. Certainly we are all guilty or worthy of blame! How could we ever forget that it was for our dreadful sin that Jesus died on the Cross? Jesus bore unspeakable suffering by taking on punishment He didn’t deserve — we deserved it instead! And He did that for us freely and wholeheartedly.
Now Paul urged us, “…As Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” You and I didn’t deserve the forgiveness we received, but God forgave us anyway. He forgave us for all we have done in the past, and His mercy is so boundless that He continues to forgive us in the present when we ask for forgiveness. Now we who are forgiven have a responsibility to forgive!
So when you are presented with an opportunity to get upset with people and you feel yourself sliding into a state of frustration and strife, take a moment to pause and meditate on the truths of Colossians 3:13. When you remember how much you’ve been forgiven by Jesus — and by others whom you’ve deliberately or accidently wronged in the past — you’ll realize you don’t have a right to remain offended with anyone.
We can choose to walk in this kind of forgiveness and refuse to walk in unforgiveness, bitterness, and strife. Certainly, we can’t control what others say or do, but we are responsible for the condition of our own hearts. We must not give place to the devil by indulging in selfish or proud thoughts and emotions and attempting to justify our own negative behavior in response to what happened to us. It might take a daily decision to love and forgive others, but there’s a blessing in taking the high road in life. And God commands us to do it. Life is precious, and so is the time God has given us. Why waste it on being continually frustrated, angry, and upset? We must choose forgiveness and allow the Lord to deal with the situations we face.
The following would be a good prayer to pray if you’ve been tempted to hold a grudge against someone’s offense:
Heavenly Father, I repent for allowing myself to become angry, frustrated, and unforgiving. It’s wrong and I refuse to yield to selfishness and pride any longer. No matter what has been said or done, I have no right to harbor ill will — especially when You have forgiven me of so much. And You commanded me to forgive others in turn. Jesus, You paid a horrific price for my sins. Even as You hung dying on the Cross at Calvary, You prayed not only for me, but also for the person who has offended me. Help me focus on You instead of on me and the person I am upset with. Help me see this person and this situation through Your eyes as I seek to honor You in the matter. As an act of my will and by faith in You and Your Word, I forgive and let this grievance drop. Holy Spirit, teach me to love others as Christ has loved me. In Jesus’ name I pray.
How can Denise and I and our team be praying for you this month? Perhaps you’re struggling with an area of offense right now, and you know it’s holding you back from making the progress you need to make in life. We count it an honor to be your partners in prayer. Contact us with your request, and one of our team will be delighted to pray with you in faith about the things that are on your heart.
We truly do love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families