You have put on the new self (Colossians 3:10).
You are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved (Colossians 3:12).
Christ is your life, and He is all and is in all (Colossians 3:4; Colossians 3:11).
We learned these truths are the power behind bearing with one another in Colossians 3:13 — putting up with one another for the sake of unity — not making a small, annoying part of someone into all of who they are. (You can read that post here if you missed it.)
But these truths are also the foundation for the harder work of mercy commanded in this verse: if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
To bear with someone, we don’t make small offenses the whole of who they are.
To forgive someone, we don’t make big offenses the whole of who we are.
As the Lord has forgiven you is not about living up to some supernatural standard — summoning up the strength to meet an impossible command. It is about living from our new identity — grounding our relationships in what God has done for us and who we’ve become.
Good forgivers are good confessors, consistently probing the depths of their sin and finding the limitless nature of His grace.
Good forgivers are good receivers, filling up on the complete and joyous love of God till it spills out on those around them.
Good forgivers are good rememberers, always recalling the grace that was purchased with the cross. They know that sins committed against them have also been committed against the Christ in them.
I have received many wounds, great and small. I have argued with injustice and abandonment in my head for months — even years. I have found it hard to forgive.
But surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Jesus was not only broken for my sins against Him, He bore my sorrow for all others’ sins against me. He took the brunt of both my shattered life and my shattered expectations of others.
And yet He remains unmoved in His place at the right hand of God, upholding the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). Nothing done to me can change Him or His glory, which are now the truest part of who I am. I can never expect from someone and come up empty, because He is there in the emptiness, fulfilling their promises to me for the sake of His name.
To show mercy, we must live like we know the Merciful. To forgive great things, we must anchor ourselves to the One who is greater.