Put on Forebearance

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Devotional Word for Monday, May 4, 2020

Let’s think about two verses from Colossians 3 today, verses 12 and 13. Here’s how they read:

12So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience;

13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

The specific word I’d like for us to focus on is the first word of verse 13, bearing. But before we do that, we need to note what comes before we get to it. These verses are addressed to those who are chosen of God. If you’re a Christian, you need to know that simple truth. As Jesus told His disciples in John 15:16, you didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain. That means you are holy and beloved. Holy means set apart, consecrated. That’s what God does when He chooses you. And He chooses you because He loves you, that is, you are beloved. Let that sink into your consciousness regularly: you are chosen of God; you are beloved of God. 

Given that background, Christians are told to put on particular character attributes. Though it may not sound like it, put on is in the imperative mood, it is a command. This is something like being told to get dressed, to put on your proper clothing. It is something we need to do with intentionality, with purpose. 

With what are we to clothe ourselves? We’re given a wonderful list of spiritual clothes to find in our closet: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Did you know your Christian closet is filled with such beautiful garments! These splendid garments are not to be saved for special occasions only. We are to put them on daily. They are for everyday use!

What will wearing these clothes produce? What will it look like in our everyday life? Verse 13 is quite clear about it: we will bear with one another and we will forgive each other. Those are two very different actions. I think we know what forgive means, that is, not to hold something against someone even though they’re in the wrong and guilty. Wipe the slate clean. 

Bearing with is different. That’s why I want to focus a bit more on it. This refers to instances where the shortcomings of others keep coming up short again and again! The Greek word meaning to have is the root word for bearing with. Added to the front of it is the prefix meaning again. So, this is something you have again and again! You don’t deal with it in a once-and-done manner. It may involve guilt on the part of the other person, or it may not. Maybe it is an annoying habit, or perhaps an attitude that’s off-putting. Maybe it’s personal grooming patterns. It could be anything – you know what it is that bugs you, that challenges your forbearance. It’s that thing that you bear with in the other person.

How do you check to see if you’ve put on the proper clothes from that splendid array in your spiritual closet? A good diagnostic I try to use is this: what is my first emotional reaction to any given stimulus? If it’s anger, frustration, annoyance, vengeance, exasperation, retaliation, etc., then I know I need to take time to get dressed properly! I need to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

Why do I want to do so? Because I remember I’m chosen and beloved of the Lord. Despite my many shortcomings, my repeated failures, my annoying habit of trusting the arm of the flesh, and my not-so-renewed-mind, He has forgiven me and bears with me. I want my character to reflect His character. That’s what He’s called me to do, that’s what He’s told me to do. How about you? How are you dressing these days? I invite you to go to your spiritual closet and ask our Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help you get clothed with a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

Let’s pray: Lord God, thank You for choosing me and loving me. I am so grateful for Your bearing with me and forgiving me. You have spread Your love abroad in my heart. Help me to love You fully. Help me be clothed with Your character so that my forbearance and love can be a blessing and encouragement to others. I ask this is Jesus’ name. Amen.