Colossians 3:12-15 – 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 whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (NIV)
This passage is challenging in many ways, but especially when we love to be right. We talk about right and wrong as if the dividing line were clear and precise, but it isn't always.
Consider the letter H. We pronounce it "aitch" and give it a breathing sound. If someone said it was an N, we would tell them they were wrong. If someone said it is an E, we would again say they were wrong. But in the Cyrillic alphabet (Russian, Ukrainian, etc.), H is the equivalent of our N, and to the modern Greeks, H is the vowel E. They are not wrong, they just look at things differently.
To bear with someone is to be patient with them, to listen carefully to them, to consider what they are saying, and even, as the old saying goes, to "walk a mile in their shoes", or to try to look at things from their perspective.
The things that come between us — arguments, points of view, and even denominational doctrines and theologies — are often just different views of the same truth. How important it is to bear with one another and to seek love, which binds us "all together in perfect unity". Let us remember that Jesus' great prayer for His followers centred on unity:
John 17:20-23 – I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord God, help us to be quick to love and slow to judge. Help us each to be guided by Your Spirit in all our relationships. Through Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.