Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. — Colossians 3:12-13
I was unaware of my unforgiving spirit after my husband of seventeen years left me, when our sons were thirteen and fifteen years old. One day while praying, I asked the Lord if there was anything in my life that blocked communication between Him and me. To my surprise, He told me, “You need to forgive your husband.”
My immediate reaction was, “Look what he did! I deserve to own these feelings!” As I attempted to continue praying, though, I found I could not get a prayer through. I finally said, “Lord, please help me to forgive him.” He did not disappoint me! When I surrendered my will to God, the peace that came into my heart was a real surprise to me. I felt I was released from bondage. I had been unaware of the bitterness and the unforgiving spirit that I held toward my husband, but when it was removed, I felt so much better!
To forgive, is to grant pardon for an offense and to give up resentment toward the offender. It is letting go of our right for retribution or “payment.” Sometimes we can be mistreated or betrayed and hardly notice it at all, but there are times when the offense hurts deeply. There is real injury. In such cases, it is human nature to want recompense of some sort, even if it is only making sure that the offender is aware of having hurt us! However, God points us in a different direction. He instructs us to forgive!
How can we come to the Throne of Grace if we are refusing to forgive people who have injured us? How can we approach a God of mercy if we ourselves have failed to grant mercy? We must take care of relationship problems — make up with a spouse, get along with fellow church members, love our neighbors — and then we will be fully united in prayer with the Father.
When we came to Christ for forgiveness and His salvation, we were forgiven. Our sins were covered. That is a glorious fact of our lives. We want to rejoice in that forgiveness and be sure that we extend it to others!
In this section of Colossians, Paul gave some principles for the inner life of a Christian. In verses 5-11, he listed several things that were to have no place in a Christian life:
In verses 12-17, Paul went on to instruct regarding virtues that were to become part of the Christian life. He exhorted the Colossians to “put on” the following:
The word quarrel, as used in verse 13, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, “find fault, blame, or censure,” and indicates an occasion of complaint. Paul pointed out that if someone gave a just reason for complaint, the Christian was not only to forgive him, but also to be as ready to do him good as if the offense had never occurred.
Paul concluded this section by exhorting the believers to live as Jesus Christ’s representatives in all relations of life — obeying His Word, trusting in His power, devoted to His service, and living Christ-centered lives.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. Ethical: the duties of those in Christ
A. In the personal life (3:5-17)
1. Negatively (3:5-11)
a. Consider yourself as dead to sin (3:5-7)
b. Put off the actions of the old man (3:8)
c. The reason (3:9-11)
(1) Such actions have already been laid aside (3:9)
(2) The new man has already been put on (3:10-11)
2. Positively (3:12-17)
a. Put on the character of the new man (3:12)
b. Put on the actions of the new man (3:13-17)
(1) In relation to others (3:13-14)
(a) Forbearing and forgiving (3:13)
(b) Loving (3:14)
(2) In relation to self (3:15-17)
(a) The peace of Christ: ruling (3:15)
(b) The word of Christ: dwelling (3:16)
(c) The name of Christ: doing (3:17)
The key to forgiving others is remembering how much God has forgiven us. Is it difficult for us to forgive someone who has wronged us so little when God has forgiven us so much? To forgive and to ask forgiveness is a decision — our decision. Forgiveness frees us from bondage and brings healing to our spirits.