Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
– Colossians 3:12-14
I’ve been meditating on this scripture for a couple of days now. Every time I read it, something new stands out. As Christians, we’re told to love and serve. But I know I’ve glossed over a lot of these admonitions. Love is such a squishy word. “I love pizza!” “I just love her hair!” For Americans, it’s become an all-purpose word to show great affinity for someone or something.
The part that says “make allowance for each other’s faults” hit me today. In the New King James Version, it says “bearing with one another”. Doesn’t that sound like…tolerance? I’ve written about the merits of tolerance before. If only we could stop trying to remake others in our image! “I like her, but I wish she wouldn’t talk so much. She never shuts up!” Or, my personal favorite, “I like him. I do. Those terrible puns! Oy!”
You get the drift.
I’m slowly, slowly learning this part of the truth. For years, I thought if people just did it *my* way, we’d all get along swell. Now I can see how incredibly boring the world would be if all its people acted the same way, thought the same thoughts. If I could only get Zac to be as driven at schoolwork as I was. If I could only show Ruby the value of seeing a dentist on a regular basis. If only, if only.
Not my job.
I’m not God. I don’t get to move the chess pieces and turn hearts (see Exodus) or make the weather (see “Groundhog Day”). My particular specialty must be love. I haven’t the luxury of forcing folks into the mold of my superior judgment. No. I get to take people as they are, lifting them up in prayer as necessary and overlooking any offenses towards me in the process.
This is nitty-gritty love. It’s not soft, or porous, or gooey. This love helps the wheels of industry turn. This love keeps families together, husbands and wives on the same page. This love helps our pets to live another day.
This love will cost me, too. I don’t get to right wrongs or exact vengeance; I let God handle that part. I learn daily to trust the image of God he put into those around me, believing the best of people. This love is straight from God. I can’t do it on my own. May His love pour through me to others today.
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him... – I John 4:16