"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." (Colossians 3:12-13)
I am quickly discovering how much I fail in this area of forgiveness. I have no excuse because the Bible does not leave forgiving others up for debate. The problem is the sin in my heart. I can easily hand out the words of forgiveness but my heart begrudgingly does not want to forgive. I have the kindness on the outside to forgive but inside my heart slander exist. This is why the apostle Paul instructed us to "clothe" ourselves with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." The command is for God's people to look like God's people and that happens when we follow the example of Christ. This is not natural.
What must me to do in order to fulfill this command?
We must rehearse the gospel. We must look to Christ as our example of forgiveness. Christ was perfectly compassionate, perfectly kind, perfectly humble, perfectly gentle and perfect patient. The display of these truths culminated at the cross where Christ laid down his life for those who hated him. Christ endured the pain and agony of separation from his Father so that sinners could be reconciled to God. The innocent Savior died in my place. My sins have been forgiven, in fact, God promises to cast my sins into the depths of the sea. Since the perfect and holy God of the universe sent his Son to bear my wrath and die my death for the forgiveness of my sins doesn't it make complete sense that I would want to forgive others? It does seem like that would be the case after everything that has taken place for my pardon. This is why the apostle Paul does not tell us to muster up our own strength and just forgive. He does not tell us to use our own willpower and just forgive. He knows those methods are of no value in truly forgiving another human. Rather he goes straight to the gospel when he writes: "Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
What simple words that should be our pray to live out by the power of the Holy Spirit who works within us. Easy to read but hard to do. May we strive to love the gospel so when we are sinned against we may not revile back but forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
Grace upon grace,