“Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
This verse presents two virtues in our dealing with people, but both deal with fellow Christians:
Bear with one another
Forgive one another
“Bearing with one another”
“Bearing with” means not to hate, hurt, gossip about, mind the business or malign anyone. God has not appointed us to straighten out other people. He has not elected us to bully them. God does not want us to run someone else’s life. We need to learn to live with one another patiently, giving them latitude.
“One another” means one another of the same kind. This term of relationship refers to fellow Christians. We need to learn to live in harmony with fellow Christians.
Forbearance gives latitude to the failings of other Christians.
Forbearance is tolerance. There is a good and a bad tolerance from the Christian point of view. Wrong tolerance is to tolerate false doctrine within the body of Christ. It is sad to see this rampant among evangelicals today. The Christian duty is to be intolerant of that which discounts Jesus or His work upon the cross. This fallacy is especially true among post-evangelicals who minimize truths in the Bible to accommodate the prevailing cultural thinking. I wrote a book about this subject called Certainty, a Place to Stand. This accommodation of truth led to the heresy of Progressive Christianity, which is the old liberalism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Insider’s Movement in missions does the same, whereby it accommodates Scripture to appease Muslim doctrine, for example.
However, the second and biblical tolerance is the tolerance of insult or injury against our person. God expects us to bear with others no matter how obnoxious they may be to us. When we encounter a legalistic, immature believer, the normal tendency is to squash them with the truth. This reflex comes when they try to intrude into our space. What should be the reaction of the mature believer when a rude, crude person sticks his nose in our business? Bear with him. The mature believer will not fall apart and use revenge tactics. He will not become upset with them.