Thursday, January 7, 2016

Christians should forbear one another because of God's forbearance

Romans 2:4  "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

In yesterday's post we considered God's forbearance and why it is that we ought to be thankful for it. Forbearance is that quality of God whereby He chooses beforehand to "bear with" His people. Even when we at times fail God, He won't deny us, since He won't deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). 

Today we want to understand why it is necessary for God's people to excercise this quality with one another. In Christian theology, God's characteristics or attirbutes are sometimes described in one of two ways: incommunicable and communicable attributes. I'm sure you have heard the term "communicable disease", meaning an illness that can be transmitted from one person to another. Communicability is that property that results in similar symptoms between the infected person and the carrier of the disease. The opposite of this word is incommunicable - referring to a characteristic that cannot be passed on or mimicked in another person. 

With God, there are incommunicable attributes (such as omniscience, omnipotence, etc.), meaning that no other being in the universe shares such qualities. With God, there are also communicable attributes (love, mercy, forbearance, etc.) that creatures mimic with respect to their Maker. Hence, God's people love one another because God first loved them (1 John 4:19). The basis for all ethical behavior is rooted in the Goodness of God, being that such an attribute is communicated and expressed in a creaturely way by the creature. 

Now why this little theological discussion? Simply put, Christians are commanded to forebear one another based upon God's forbearance of them. Ephesians 4:1-2 reads: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love." What rationale is there for following through with this command? God forbeared us. Colossians 3:13 states: "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." 

Only when I am relying upon God's character already resident in me by the Holy Spirit will I then forbear others. Since this constitutes on of God's communicable attributes, then this means that forbearance is reliant upon God to work through me, and me with Him. We must pray for God's forbearance to work forth in our lives while aiming to yield ourselves to His influence. Psalm 36:10 reminds us: "O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart."

So may all who are Christians reading this post - remember that by forbearing other believers, you are in effect acting as Jesus would. If you are not a Christian and are reading this post, let me close with this verse, Romans 3:24-25 "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God".

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