Mike and I celebrated 21 years of marriage last month, and this bit of Colossians 3:13 is one of the secret reasons why:

Bearing with one another.

This phrase sounds super spiritual — all “carry each others burdens” and such. But in the original Greek, it’s just common street talk:

Put up with each other.

Endure one another’s annoying stuff, thoughtless stuff, drive-you-crazy stuff. Suffer trivial issues in silence for the sake of unity.

This is just one powerful secret to a long marriage — or an enduring friendship or family — or any other bond meant to last, such as the church relationships Paul writes of here.

And why should we endure it? Because Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4) and He is all and in all (Colossians 3:11).

In His grace, He has become the whole of us.

Embitterment over little things labors in direct opposition to His work:

He erases the score of sin; we tally up annoyances.

He works in the heart; we’re bogged down in habits.

He’s put us all together, and we’re busy picking things apart, holding on to tiny, cutting shards in the darkness when He has brought us into the light.

When we fail to bear with one another, we deny the sufficiency of the gospel for not only the deepest sin, but the smallest grievance. We stand in the self-righteousness of but I’m trying harder, as if trying is what has earned us grace. We miss the chance to praise God’s merciful joy and His unfathomable delight in the aggravating hearts of our family, our friends, our church — ourselves.

This week marked the five-year anniversary of my dad’s death, and — as with all the ones who leave us — eternity has sifted and deepened the picture of who he was and still remains. The trivial marks and scratches are still there, no doubt, but their significance has faded, and his eternal colors shine brighter, day after day.

I wish I had shone more light on the whole than the parts on this side of the grave. God help me to do so with my children’s father, and help him to do so with me.

Bear with one another. Put up with one another. Work to magnify the forever — not the momentary — written on the hearts of the ones who walk with you.

Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).