In Scripture, the word “bear” means to tolerate one another, to bear with them, to patiently endure their personal tendencies/idiosyncrasies and weaknesses. That is a lot easier to talk about than to practice. I like the old saying that goes like this: “To live above, with saints we love, that will be glory. To live below, with the saints we know, that’s quite a different story!” Here’s a little news flash: sometimes people are difficult to get along with! And sometimes those people that are difficult to get along with are the very people that we sit next to each and every week at church and the people we go home with afterwards.
The truth is that Satan doesn’t want us to get along with each other, neither in the church nor the home. He wants us to become annoyed, upset and out of sync with one another. Healthy relationships require hard work and a lot of grace because those relationships are rather vulnerable and can rupture quite easily. Unless we guard against it, our differences can easily become irritants and our unity can unravel very quickly. So how do we maintain our love and unity in the midst of these realities? We must bear with one another (Eph. 4:1-3)!
According to Paul there are four aspects involved in bearing with one another. First, bearing with others is part of living a life worthy of our calling (4:1). As Christian we have been called to live a life that brings honor and glory to the Lord. Part of that involves extending the same grace and forbearance He has shown to us to one another.
Second, bearing with one another requires patience, humility and gentleness. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we truly are, frankly someone who needs the patience and forbearance of others and gentleness is how we treat others because of it.
Third, bearing with one another requires forgiveness. We will offend others at times and they us, to overcome that requires us to bear with and simply forgive one another as God has forgiven us. Fourth, we find the ultimate purpose for bearing with one another. It is so that we might maintain the “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
Truth be told, there is simply no way to maintain unity in the local body of believers if we can’t learn to be patient and forgiving of one another. The bigger issue is that we simply will not accomplish the work of the Lord together if we can’t first get along together. May God help us to grow in our patience with one another so that our unity might be strong and the Lord’s work accomplished. Brian Mitchell, Jackson church of Christ Jackson, MO