Forgive and live!


"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.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

The emphasis is on verse 13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.


In the letter to the Colossians the apostle Paul says: “Christ is sufficient for us, we do not need anything else beside Him.” In chapter 3 he gives very clear and practical clues, clues on how to live a holy life for Christ. I hope that this is also your ambition: To live a holy life before Christ. From verse 1 to 11 we read about a number of things we should not do. Or in other words, things we should stop doing, preceded by: “Set your hearts on things above”.

Frequently we put on clean clothes. But what do you have to do first, before you can put on the clean clothes? You have to undo, undress the dirty clothes, isn’t it? It does not make any sense to put your clean clothes on top of your dirty clothes. If you don’t take your dirty clothes of first, you still feel and are dirty. That feels very uncomfortable!

It is the same in our spiritual life. Paul mentions a number of so called dirty clothes, clothes which we have to take of. He says: Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature like:

• sexual immorality

• impurity

• lust

• evil desires

• and greed, which is idolatry.

But he also mentions (v8):

• Anger

• Rage

• Malice

• Filthy language.

• And lastly: lying!

These are a lot of dirty clothes, which we have to get rid of! I will surely not discuss all these dirty clothes in depth, except this one: Take them off before you put on clean clothes.

In the following verses we have read about putting on new spiritual clothes: In verse 12:

• compassion,

• kindness,

• humility,

• gentleness

• and patience.

And verse 14 tells us: And over all these virtues, over all these new clothes, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Once we have surrendered to Jesus, we have to put down our old life. In other words, we took of our dirty clothes. Clothes like bad habits as the Bible mentioned before. But did we put on afterwards new clothes like compassion and kindness. How is our compassion for others? Or don’t we feel any compassion for others?

I am not talking about just a feeling. It is very easy to have your eyes filled with tears because you feel sorry for somebody else. No it is much more than just a feeling only. Compassion starts with feeling, but it has to be followed up by action, action like for instance helping somebody else. Without helping the other person, compassion means nothing, just a feeling. Compassion means getting up from your bed, compassion means coming into action, compassion means standing shoulder by shoulder.

How is our attitude in this?

And how is it with our humbleness?


The Bible says that humbleness is necessary. There is no need to feel proud, there is no need to feel better than the other person. At the time that this part of the Bible was written, humbleness or modesty were not considered to be good habits. They were considered to be bad habits. They were considered to be a weakness. Humbleness was only a good habit for slaves, not for people. Humbleness was also a sign of loosing your face. Whoever respected him or herself, never became humble.

And I think it is not different from the present situation. To be humble means for many people: loosing your face in public. In short: humbleness was a dirty word for many people then, but it is also nowadays.


And now Paul is telling us, that we, born-again Christians, have to be humble. It is not a question, but an order! Because only when we are humble, God can fulfill his promises in our lives.

To be clear: to be humble is not the same as to feel small. This error has been made many times before. In some churches it was even a slogan: You only can be a good Christian, if you feels small, if you feel like a Mr. nobody. But that is not true. That is certainly not what the Bible is telling us.

Looking at the meaning of humbleness, we have to read Matthew 11:29 where Jesus is saying: for I am gentle and humble in heart. Jesus most certainly was most not a mr. Nobody and did not feel like that either. Still He says: I am humble in heart!


There is an other way of characterizing humbleness: it is the opposite of pride. And do you know what the Bible says about pride: Pride has always to do with refusing to bow your knees for the almighty God, pride has always to do with not completely trusting in God. A proud man says: I don’t need God so much. Often somebody like that does not need any help at all.

But on the contrary: a humble person is always willing to receive help. That person is willing to bow his knees for God and other people. That person is willing to subordinate his own interest to that of an other person. Do you know this kind of humbleness in your life?

Another aspect which Paul mentions is: meekness, gentleness. And like humbleness, meekness has also a negative sound in the world around us. A meek person in the world is also zero, mr. Nobody. Our culture is soaked as it were in being strong, being selfish, thoughts like: "take care of your own business first" are very popular.


But also for meekness the Bible is giving a completely different opinion. To start with: Jesus Himself said I am gentle. And Jesus surely was not a weak person. Read the gospels and you will find out that Jesus was a strong but also gentle person!

The Bible is trying to tell us the following. Being gentle means that you don’t walk over people to reach your goal. On the contrary, you will leave space for the other person by respecting him or her. In this way it also means: No prejudices about brother or sisters.

Prejudices leads to a negative attitude and not seldom to gossiping and slander. These are imminent dangers for a church. No, dare to accept and dare to respect your brother and sister. Which means: Do not condemn! Give the other person the room to develop, the room to grow and the room to get rid of bad habits in her or his life. Give the other a wide berth!


A beautiful example has been given by the Lord Jesus Himself. You all know the story about the Samaritan woman at the well? According to the rules, Jesus had many reasons to neglect this woman:

• In the first place she was a Samaritan and Jews did not talk to Samaritans.

• In the second place she was a woman. Man did not talk to woman.

• And thirdly, Jesus knew who she was. He knew what kind of life she was living.

Not really a life to be proud of! But despite these reasons, Jesus did not belittle her. He respected her! But in this story there is another aspect:


Long-lasting patience. A patient attitude is an attitude that should always be there. That means that you are able to bear a lot of the other person. This attitude is also opposite our human nature. From nature we are not patient in bearing things from other people. Many times we are very quick in saying: I can’t bear this from you, you better find yourself other friends.

But patience in the Bible is different. In verse 14 Paul said “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Cover as it were all these good habits with love. And if this happens in your life, you will automatically react in a loving manner. Bearing in love.

Literally the word means: to lift each other, to carry each other. That is what we should do in the church community. Don’t drop each other but bear each other in love. Without love we will never learn and we will never be able to bear one another.

We are all so different. One person is always talking and the other says hardly anything. One is always the first in line and the other is always hiding in the back. One is very active from nature and the other calm and quiet. Or may be worse: You know about a mistake the other person has made. But if this knowledge defines our mutual behavior and not what the Bible is telling us, unity in the church community will be at far.


Prepossession is also a stumbling block. Many times we have our judgment ready without knowing all the details. Many times this judgment is based on a few negative things we happen to know about the person. Dear brothers and sisters let us put down this attitude of condemning and let us bear one another in love. Let us give room to the other and let us accept and respect one another. Not because I say so, but because the Bible tells us to do so!

I know, this is not an easy task. But as I said before: Let us learn. It is like a process but we have to put our will behind it! It is not an offer without engagement in which we are allowed to choose. Paul says: We have to, if we really want to be one, it is an order. I know that some of us have problems in accepting orders. In our own western culture that is even worse.

It is not an offer without engagement. It is an order. But Paul says more, it is not only to bear one another, but also to forgive one another. Why should we forgive, Do you know why we should forgive?

The answer from the Bible is very clear: Because God has forgiven me and you! And I did not have to pay anything for it, it is a completely free gift. The only thing Jesus is asking, that we should surrender ourselves to Him. Should I forgive others? YES, I should and you should and we all should.

The Lords prayer says in Matthew 6:12 “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.


Do you remember the parable about the king and his servants in Matthew 18? The servant owed the king a big sum of money, which he was not able to pay. He begged the king to give him more time to collect the money and the master took pity on him. He canceled his whole debt and let him go!

Then on the street he met a colleague servant. This man owed him a small amount of money and he ordered him: Pay back what you owe me! The other servant begged him to have mercy and to give him more time to collect the money. But the first servant said: NO, I want it now. And since he was not able to pay, he was put in prison.

The end of the story is, that the first person whose debt was canceled by the king, was punished by the king because he did not show any mercy for his fellow servant.

We also should not wait with forgiving, till the other comes to you.

Our whole life should be characterized by an attitude of forgiveness. If you do so, you will set free yourself and the other person as well!


Often we can not go to the other person. Sometimes it is not wise to do so. I give you an example:

Sometime ago a sister in our home church came to me after the service had ended. She said to me: I forgive you for what you have said this morning. I was not aware at all that I had said something wrong, so I asked her what it was. Then it turned out that I had said something, which from my point of view was very positive, but she had turned it around and made it negative and then became angry.

I really had very mixed feelings afterwards. May be I should forgive her in stead! But what we always can do is praying to God and tell Him that you forgive him or her. But of course the best thing to do is to go to the person directly!


Bearing and forgiving. Wrapped in love for each other. Let us handle this very seriously. Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, especially in these circumstances, because when the Spirit is guiding us, it will be much easier.

And let us be aware of the fact that unity in the church does not in the first place depend on what others do, but on what I do.

And then Paul ads (15-17): Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Then the peace of Christ will rule in our hearts.

Isn’t that something that we all want to happen? And be thankful. Do everything from a thankful heart! In a thankful heart there is no room for prejudices, anger and unforgiveness.

Therefore I want to challenge you to be humble, to be gentle, to accept one another to forgive one another and to bear one another in love. Take of your dirty clothes and put on the clean clothes that the Lord has given you! God bless you!