In this sermon, Pastor Neil continues his series on “Whatever You Do.” Here he urges us to show gentleness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness to others. Here are some excerpts:
Whether you dress according to the latest trends or like the Amish, whether you wear hand- me-downs or always have new clothes, is not what Jesus is concerned about. What He is concerned about is that you and I reflect His heart in our attitudes, conduct, and relationships. Not because we have to prove ourselves worthy of His love or deserving of a place in His kingdom, but because we are already the recipients of His grace.
Because of what He has done to save us and to shower us with His Fatherly love. Because of what Jesus has done for us, says Paul, this is the kind of people you and I are to be. As a result of God’s amazing love for us, this is how we are to live. This is the spiritual clothing we are to put on as followers of Jesus in this world. Got that?
We have talked so far about compassion, kindness, and humility – the first three items of clothing Paul lists here in Colossians 3. These are not the only qualities God wants us to cultivate in our lives. From there Paul adds to the list gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and love. From there he goes on to speak of the peace of Christ (15), the place of the word of Christ and the worship of Christ (16), and the central role of thankfulness (15, 16, 17), so that whatever you do, you are to do it all in the name of Jesus and for His glory (17)
Gentleness is not the easiest quality to define. The dictionary equates gentleness with kindness and tenderness. There is a lot of overlap between them. Too often the world equates gentleness with weakness. But it is not so… Gentleness doesn’t make you weak, or wimp. Gentleness means your strength is under control. You don’t act like a bull in a china shop and you don’t act like you’re the most important person in the room… Gentleness is the opposite of arrogance (which makes it an expression of humility). It is the mark of a person who gives special consideration to the rights or needs or feelings of others (Curtis Vaughan, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 11, Ephesians – Philemon, 215). Just like Jesus.
The essence of patience is putting up with difficult people or difficult situations without grumbling or allowing resentment or bitterness to take root. It is about putting up with hurts or wrongs we have suffered without seeking retaliation…
Finally (for today), let’s think about forbearance and forgiveness together. Bearing with others who do things that annoy us, who don’t do things the way we think they should, who have views with which we disagree, requires a continual exercise of patience. And forbearance cannot be divorced from forgiveness. The nature of bearing with people who rub you the wrong way or do things, intentionally or otherwise, that hurt you, makes forgiveness absolutely necessary…
For Christians, of course, as hard as it sometimes is, forgiveness is not optional. It is essential. The need to forgive is presented to us as a command in the Bible: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). We are to forgive as quickly and completely as God has forgiven us. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Paul returns to this theme in Ephesians 4:32, where he says: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
… According to Alexander De Jong, real forgiveness involves three things: First, it means giving up the right to strike back. You reject the urge to repay gossip with gossip or a bad turn with something worse. Second, you let go of the feeling of resentment and anger, and replace it with good will that desires the other’s welfare, not harm. Third, to the extent it is possible, you take concrete steps to restore (or forge) a good relationship.
That sounds hard, doesn’t it? It is hard. In fact, it is beyond hard, if you try to do it yourself. It takes the help of the Holy Spirit – whose help is available to you and me at every moment. All we have to do is ask for it. The Holy Spirit can and will give you the power to forgive the one who has hurt you, just as God has forgiven your sins. All of them.
Whatever you do, do it with compassion, kindness, and humility; do it with the gentleness that comes from strength on the inside – the strength of Jesus Himself. Clothe yourself with patience at all times. Bear with one another and show grace to each other, just as God, in His amazing love, has graced you with forgiveness
Show Gentleness, Patience, Forbearance, and Forgiveness. Pastor Neil has more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.