A Time For Giving and Forgiving
I’ve always liked Colossians, chapter 3. It’s a chapter full of homework! A chapter which commands certain things of us that may take us some time to “work out” in our habits and behaviours—a checklist of points which we would be wise to return to for ongoing self-assessment.
This morning I felt drawn to focus upon v. 13. In context, it reads like this:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 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.” (Col. 3:12, 13, 14).
Note the first word, “Therefore.” A good rule of understanding scripture is whenever you see the word “therefore,” stop and determine what it is there for.”
I believe in this case the answer lies back in the first verse: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…” As new creations of God it is incumbent upon us to work with the Spirit of Christ within us to adopt, or “put on” godly virtues. God has made us, Jews and Gentiles alike, His “chosen people” (v. 12) so we must give diligence to behave as such… to behave like Christ. Christ has made it possible for us to do so, and now we must make it practicable. We must seize the opportunities He gives us to deny the “old” man and respond instead with the “new” man.
Here in Canada we are now several weeks into physical distancing, self isolation, and homeboundness. Tolerances may be diminishing; tensions may be rising. But still Christ expects no less – He Who from the cross prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) also taught us to pray “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12). Then He added, “… if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (v. 15).
“Forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” writes the Apostle.
Jan Kempe in Faithful Hearts tells of the American Red Cross founder Clara Barton who was once asked, “Don’t you remember the mean thing that that woman said to you?” Clara replied, “I not only don’t remember; I distinctly remember forgetting.”
“Forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”