“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:
Bear with one another
Forgive one another
“Bearing with” means not to hate, hurt, gossip about, mind their business, or malign anyone. God does not want us to live someone else’s life. God has not appointed us to straighten out other people. He has not elected us to bully them.
We need to learn to live with one another. “One another” means one another of the same kind. This refers to fellow Christians. We need to learn to live in harmony with fellow Christians.
Forbearance gives latitude to the failings of other people.
Forbearance is tolerance. There is a good and a bad tolerance from the Christian point of view. Bad tolerance is to tolerate false doctrine within the body of Christ. It is sad to see this rampant among evangelicals today. It is the Christian duty to be intolerant against that which discounts Jesus or his work upon the cross. This is especially true among post-evangelicals who minimize truths in the Bible to accommodate cultural thinking. I wrote a book about this subject called Certainty, a Place to Stand. The Insider’s Movement in missions does the same. It accommodates Scripture to placate Muslims, for example.
However, the second tolerance is the tolerance of insult or injury against our person. No matter how totally obnoxious the person may be to us, God expects us to bear with them.
The normal tendency when we encounter a legalistic, immature believer is to squash them with the truth. This reflex comes when they try to intrude into our space. There is an obvious difference in our spiritual condition. What should be the reaction of the mature believer when this 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 get upset.