Forgiving Others

KEY VERSE: “Even as Christ forgave you, also do so ye.” —Colossians 3:13

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Colossians 3:9-17

IT CAN READILY be seen why a congregation made up of converted Jews and Gentiles would find it necessary to have forbearance with one another. Their former viewpoints and experiences in life had been entirely different. The viewpoint of the Jews was that they were exclusively God’s people. Had not he said to them, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth”?—Amos 3:2

Gentile converts would view matters quite differently. Accustomed to being shunned by the Jews, it might now be difficult for them to feel kindly toward those who had so disdainfully regarded them. True, they had become followers of the Jewish Messiah, but old prejudices would not easily be forgotten. They would naturally exercise a greater degree of liberty with respect to their food and other living habits than would the Jewish converts. They would not have in mind the restraining ordinances of the Law, hence would be inclined to do things which to the Jewish converts would seem very wrong. In other ways also these two groups of Christians would find obstacles to blending their viewpoints and activities in a whole-hearted oneness in Christ.

In his letter, Paul had alluded to the ideal situation where all of these human barriers would come down and there would be neither Jew nor Greek, circumcision nor uncircumcision, bond nor free, but where Christ would be all, and in all. To achieve this higher spiritual unity, Paul said they should put on bowels of mercy, of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering. Where quarreling had resulted from not having followed these high standards of Christ-like conduct they should be very quick to make amends, exercising forgiveness so characteristic of the Lord Jesus.

The Greek word translated ‘forgave’ in our Key Text means ‘to give’ or ‘to bestow favor’. Certainly forgiving is a very high expression of the spirit of giving. Paul quotes Jesus as having said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Both the teachings of Jesus and his example of self-sacrifice highlight the principle of giving in the life of the Christian.

Indeed, this great lesson of the Gospel begins with the example set before us by our Heavenly Father, who so loved the world that he gave his beloved Son to be our Redeemer and Savior. Jesus followed this example by giving his life that the church and all the world might live. Jesus said, “My flesh … I give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) This giving of his flesh was not a momentary sacrifice, although it was consummated in the cruel agony of the cross. But for 3 years previous to this, he had constantly given his time and strength to teach the multitudes and his disciples. His was a daily laying down, and giving up of life.

During these 3 years of weary yet happy giving, Jesus exercised forgiveness toward the imperfections of even his devoted disciples. Yet from them he received some things which he greatly appreciated—the love and affection of his little family of traveling companions; and in Bethany—Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, who showed their love by anointing him with the precious ointment.

What a wonderful example of merciful giving and gracious receiving was shown in the life of our Master. The apostle wrote, “So also do ye.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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