People are Not an Option!
Have you every wondered if the title of this blog is true?
From a real and tangible standpoint, Paul gets strait to the point when it comes to putting on in Colossians 3. Just a casual look at the text reveals the need to bear with the people that God has placed in our lives. Paul doesn’t waste time getting to the heart of the matter. He knows where the struggle is. He has seen it and lived it. He knows that God’s people can be prone to selfishness and pride if not confronted with the truth. Paul knows that dealing with people is a great avenue for showing the glory of God. So, Paul jumps in the deep end. He begins with a very basic fact of life, we have to live and work with humans.
I have put up with him?!
Yes, you do. In fact, you have to bear with him [Col.3: 13].
But what does it mean to bear with one another? What does it look like? Why must we invest our energy in “bearing”? We are to bear with one another, but when you get down to it – people are just down right difficult. Who needs them? There must be a reason for why Paul camps here – why he spends the remaining portion of our text dealing with our interaction with the people of God.
In fact, you have to bear & forgive.
In the text, “Bearing with one another,” means to endure. But to what extent are we to endure? How far are we to go in our enduring? Ask yourself this question: how much has Christ endured for me? Live in forgiveness towards one another. As Christ has forgiven you [as implicated in the first part of chapter 3] so you must forgive others. This is a command that stands based on the standard that is given to us in Christ’s example.
Sometimes the grievances are small and petty. Other times they seem to give the appearance that the whole world will come to and end. No matter how big in magnitude or small in comparison, we are to forgive as Christ forgave.
If Christ has forgiven you so much, why are you unable to forgive others? Live in the light of His forgiveness. Only then will you be able to truly bear with the local body He has placed you in. Grow in your understanding of how much Christ has forgiven you. And let it seep into the heart of your being and reflect in your love for others. When you embrace Christ’s forgiveness, you are embracing the joy of offering it to everyone who wrongs you. You are embracing the calling to be a living example of the forgiveness of Christ
In fact, you have love.
As if Paul has not touched something sensitive within all of us enough, he goes deeper into our heart by mentioning that which is central to all other virtues: love. As one commentator says:
“In keeping with the motif of putting on clothes, love is the belt or sash that pulls all these things just mentioned together.” – John MacArthur
Love is the primary virtue above all others. Without genuine love, no other virtues can be cultivated. Genuine love is the only thing that can bring “perfect harmony” among God’s people. It is the atom that binds God’s people together in harmony, the adhesive of the church.
Here is the litmus test of whether you genuinely love those around you. Do you love others because of what they give you or do you love others without expecting anything in return? The word of God says, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die [Rom. 5:7].” Christ died for us who are unlovely; surely we can forbear the petty grievances of those who are the redeemed.
So here is the over arching point. People are not an option in the economy of God. They [we] are here to show Christ through our love and forgiveness of one another! We are a living testimony of Christ himself. This is why the local church is so important. This is why we are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together [Heb. 10:25]. When you reject the people of God and isolate yourself from them, you are telling God that His economy – his way of doing things – is a waste of time. “You got it all wrong God! I don’t know what you were thinking but surely this is not it!” And He responds: “Don’t forget, I loved you when you were unlovely. I forgave you when you were wallowing in your sin! Don’t tell me I got it all wrong!”