Have you ever had a hard time getting along with someone? If you have a sibling or two you can probably relate to the feeling all too well. It’s a simple fact of life that people can be hard to “bear with in love” as Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) instructs us to do here in Eph. 4.
Take for example Gene Getz (author of Building One Another Up). Many years after graduating college, Gene recalled the memory of an old college roommate who absolutely drove him crazy. In his own words: “I remember John. He was probably the most difficult to put up with. His middle name was Self-Centered. He was just plain hard to get along with.”
How do we bear with people who are just plain hard to get along with? What exactly does it mean to bear with one another? It does NOT mean that we should simply try our best to suffer painfully through the time that we absolutely must spend together. Bearing with other Christians can be defined as “patiently enduring the idiosyncrasies and weaknesses of others; to have a forgiving spirit toward others who may sin against us.” Bearing with one another involves patience and forgiveness.
In his Building One Another Up, Gene Getz offers four helpful steps in bearing with the most difficult people.
- Take a good look at yourself. Odds are that someone out there thinks of you (yes, you!) as the difficult person. Realizing your own weaknesses can help you to be more patient with others.
- Examine your attitude toward others. After realizing your own weaknesses, ask yourself if you expect more out of others than you expect out of yourself. Do you criticize others for errors that you make yourself?
- Make a list of all Christians you have difficulty relating to. Ask yourself why you can’t relate to them.
- Consciously and deliberately forgive every person on the list. Don’t base your forgiveness on the condition of an apology. Take care of your own attitude. Too often do we repay evil with more evil. Too often do we hold on to grudges and neglect the forgiving attitude of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Bearing with one another is hard work for most of us. Unconditional forgiveness is a difficult thing to offer to others, but that is the example that Christ has left for us. Christ freely offered forgiveness for all of those who even nailed HIS very hands to the cross. Certainly we can bear with difficult personalities within the church.
I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)