“bearing with one another in love”
So how do you feel about this verse? To me it represents the painful definition of “love thy neighbor.” Bearing with someone is really about loving those who are hard to love.
Of course, there are many people that God has put in my walk that it is my joy to know. I enjoy being around them; I grow through them. I never feel I have to “bear” with them. As a matter of fact, those are probably the people who have to bear with me!
The word “bear” means, as most of us know, to endure, and I don’t have to think very long to come up with a few names of people I need to endure. But when I look deeper at the definition, I also see that bearing with someone means things like “supporting”, “influencing” and “comprehending one’s situation”. What a powerful reminder this is of how we are to mimic Christ in our relationships.
The people in my life who need to be endured are the ones I should be welcoming. (“Give me your tired, your boring, your endlessly chatty…”) These people are the ones I am called to support, and to influence, and the way to do this is to do my best to comprehend their situation. That’s not easy to do, but it can be done. And if I’m doing this in imitation of Christ, then I am doing it as He would – in love. Oh, how glad I am to be more fully understanding this! Now when I’m dealing with someone difficult, I know exactly what to do: seek to understand, support and influence, in love.
But this verse I am now grateful for is contained with even more wisdom from Paul: the “how” and the “why”. The phrase before this one is, “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love…”
We must bear with others in gentleness, remembering that it is His kindness that leads to repentance. We are to bear with others in lowliness, aware that we too, are someone else’s burden. And we are to bear with others with longsuffering, thankful for how patiently the Father has watered us, waiting for growth.
And finally, the “why”. “Bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” God’s Spirit is what unites all Christians, making it possible for us to bear with one another, and it bonds us together in peace. And by this, will all men know we are His disciples.