We know we are called to love others, but how do we do this? It can be even more difficult with those who are hard to love. God’s Word gives us the answer. As we learn to walk in love, it will affect our attitudes, our actions, and our relationship!
Learning to walk in love is made practical through what is known as the mutuality commands or the “one anothers” in the Scriptures. This week we begin by comparing the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 with the mutuality commands of Scripture. Look at 1 Corinthians 13:4a alongside Ephesians 4:1-3:
Love is patient and kind; —1 Corinthians 13:4a
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. —Ephesians 4:1-3
LOVE is patient and kind so WALK bearing with one another.
Bear with in the original language means to hold up or keep back from falling, to bear patiently and is spoken of having patience with the errors of weaknesses of others. It implies the idea of giving another person/believer room to grow in their faith and their walk.
When I am impatient my words and actions are rushed and rude. When I walk with an attitude of bearing with my words and actions are to be patient and kind.
How exactly are we to bear with one another?
If we look at Ephesians 4:1-3 along with a complementary verse in Colossians 3:12, we find the reminder that we are God’s chosen ones who are beloved. We see that bearing with involves compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, gentleness/meekness and patience.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… —Colossians 3:12
These words in the original language give us further insight into how we are to bear with one another…even when it’s hard!
- Kind/Kindness in the original language means to show oneself useful, to show one’s self mindful, to use kindness, willing to help. Kindness is a grace that pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be harsh and austere. This kindness describes one’s disposition rather than acts of goodness.
- Humility in the original language means esteeming ourselves as small; for the sinner it involves confession of sin and a deep realization of his unworthiness to receive God’s marvelous grace.
- Gentleness/Meekness in the original language does not denote outward expression of feeling but an inward grace of the soul, a calmness toward God in particular. It is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us as good, in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.
- Patience in the original language means self-restraint before proceeding to action. A quality of one able to avenge himself/herself yet refrains from doing so; it involves exercising understanding and patience towards others. (Note: there are two words for patience in the New Testament. One involves patience in circumstances and the other patience toward people. This word is the latter.)
As I studied each of these words, I noticed some commonalities:
#1 Each of these characteristics begins within my own heart and mind.
#2 They all involve grace —God’s divine influence upon my heart and soul that is then reflected in my life.
#3 They each require I rely upon the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. They are the fruit of the Spirit and not something I can bring about through my own efforts and abilities. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Kindness is grace that pervades my whole being. It’s about my inward disposition rather than acts I perform.
Gentleness/Meekness is an inward grace of my soul rather than an outward expression.
Humility is understanding that I am a sinner, who is unworthy of the marvelous grace and forgiveness God has provided, and so my life is characterized by confession of sin. In disagreements with others, humility is looking inward to see what part I have played in the situation and confession of that sin.
Patience requires the grace of God and the Spirit of God to keep me from acting upon a situation and instead to exercise understanding and compassion toward another.
In our relationships we always need to look VERTICAL before HORIZONTAL. I need to humble myself before God and ask Him to do a work in my heart and life first.
I have found that bearing with one another often requires that I simply PAUSE and BREATHE!
Pausing to remind myself that I too am the recipient of patience and kindness. First and foremost, the patience and kindness of the Lord who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 103:8). I also have benefited and grown through the patience and kindness of other believers who have extended grace and love to me, pointing me to Christ, and a giving me an example to follow as I mature in my walk.
Breathing allows me a moment to exhale that impatient spirit and refocus. Asking for the Lord to flood my heart and mind with His grace, reminding me of His Word which realigns my attitude and actions so that I might reflect Jesus.
This idea of bearing with does not suggest that we are to become doormats or allow abuse using patience and kindness as a tool to enable. There are situations and times when we need to confront and speak truth in love or just remove ourselves from the situation! But I find that most of my daily interactions, moments of impatience, and unkindness simply require I bear with another by the grace of God and His Spirit at work within me.
Who do you need to bear with today? Ask the Lord to give you the strength to walk patient and kind toward others bearing with their faults, weaknesses or immaturity as you point them to Jesus.
Rejoicing in Him!
©2013 Susan Cady, susancady.com