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Intro: “You don’t have to put up with that” Have you ever heard those words before? It would seem that this is one of the cultural mantras of a free society. When someone does something to wrong us, or maybe that just irritates us the cry goes out from others, “you don’t have to put up with that!” And so we are urged to do something about it (whatever “it” may be). How does that jive with the calling of the Christian? As we continue or investigation of the calling of the gospel message and its impact on our conduct and life, I ask you once again to return to
- Ephesians 4:1-2 – I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
I. “Bearing with one another” – If I remember my figures correctly, someone has counted over 50 specific appearances of the phrase “one another” in the NT, defining our mutual responsibility to each other. We are to love one another; serve one another; accept one another; strengthen one another; help one another; encourage one another; care for one another; submit to one another; commit to one another; be devoted to one another; be patient with one another; be interested in one another; be accountable to one another; confess to one another. Included in this list is bearing with one another. What does this mean? How am I to bear with another person?
A. Defining the Action… The KJV and ASV use the phrase “Forbearing one another”. The original word is anechomai (an-ekh’-om-ahee) which means to “hold oneself up against… (figuratively) to put up with. There you have it. In that long list of one another responsibilities the Lord says we must put up with each other. So in answer to our opening mantra – “you don’t have to put up with that” – Jesus says, Yes, you do!
1. The word “forbear” literally means to “hold up or back from falling“. Thayer says… to hold one’s self erect and firm… to sustain, to bear, to endure”. Thus forbearance is patience or endurance.
2. The term is used in various scriptural contexts:
a. This term is used to describe a person’s response to the words of another, or to God’s message. Hebrews 13:22– And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. So to bear with a word is to heed to it; support it.
• Used negatively in 2 Timothy 4:3 – 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers
b. It is used to describe how one reacts to the circumstances of trial – 1 Corinthians 4:12 – And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure (anechomai – suffer) One bears with persecution when he holds up through it.
c. But Paul’s use of this term in Ephesians 4:2 has to do with bearing with each other – putting up with others. Barnes says… “Bearing patiently with the foibles, faults, and infirmities of others” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold (anechomai) the weak, be patient with all. It is a word that can deal with support for another, especially in regard to their weaknesses.
• “to bear with, have patience with in regard to the errors and weaknesses of anyone.” (WS Dictionary)
B. Taking it a step further… Paul has described the calling of God with the attitudes of lowliness, meekness and longsuffering. The call for us to forbear with each other takes these attitudes a step further. He is specifically calling for us to tolerate the weaknesses and idiosyncrasies of our brethren. To not allow the little things get to us and disrupt our relationship with each other. We all have weaknesses of conviction and faith. We all fail to meet the needs of others and to fulfill our responsibilities to each other. At times we even sin against each other. How do we respond when this happens to us? We are called to be forbearing – to put up with it.
• Not in a compromising manner that excuses sin, or threatens the integrity of God’s church.
• But we must not be poised to condemn, but rather yearning and working toward continued unity and reconciliation.
1. At times it is obvious that unity or reconciliation is the farthest thing from our minds. Like an animal stalks its prey we watch and listen to our brother’s or sister’s actions with a view toward correcting every misstep and condemning every error.
a. It is easy to see forbearance in Jesus in His attitude towards His disciples. How often did He put up with their weaknesses and lack of understanding? Matt 16:5-12– 5 Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” 8 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? 9 Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? 11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? — but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
b. Later in the next chapter of Matthew, a gentleman brought his epileptic son to Jesus to be healed. They had previously brought the boy to the disciples, but they could not heal him. Jesus was grieved at the impotence of the disciples and said… “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear (anechomai) with you? Bring him here to Me.” (Matthew 17:17) Later when the disciples asked about their inability to work the miracle, Jesus calmly told them to fast and pray more earnestly.
II. Forbearance and the Calling: Ephesians 4:2 marks forbearance as a characteristic of the gospel call itself. God offers us salvation by way of forbearance. In a real sense, God puts up with us. Again, this forbearance is not a toleration of sin, or a compromise of morality. Isaiah 30:18 – 8 Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. Acts 17:30-31 – Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” God’s forbearance was a step toward reconciliation through a call for repentance to all men. In the announcement of the coming kingdom repentance was the first order of business. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand“. The apostles demanded repentance.
A. As we noticed last week, Paul told the Romans that God’s goodness and forbearance was designed to lead them to repentance. (Romans 2:5) God’s intention in bearing with us is to bring about our forgiveness. This is precisely where the apostle leads us in Ephesians. Later in chapter 4, as he describes the new man, fashioned in the likeness of Jesus, he says… Eph 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
1. We are called to put up with each other in a spirit of tenderness and kindness in order that we might forgive each other. The intention was not just a forced resignation to sins of mistakes of others. We are not just called to grudgingly put up with each other like two fighting siblings who are forced to shake hands and apologize, with their fingers crossed behind their backs!
III. “Forbearing in Love” The end of Eph. 4:2 connects forbearance with love. Personal forbearance is an act motivated by love and made possible through love for others.
A. Paul’s description of love in 1 Cor. 13 begins by saying that Love is patient… and ends by telling us that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1. This is how parents bear with their children. How husbands and wives survive the struggles of a marriage; How members of a family give each other the benefit of the doubt and forbear the weaknesses and mistakes of each other. This is how the body of Christ, composed of differing and at times even conflicting convictions and actions, continues to exist in unity. They love each other, and love bears all things.
2. This love is not a sentimental emotion. It is a resolve to act in the best interest of another. Take a closer look at 1 cor. 13:1-7. This is the foundation of forbearance. If we can learn to love, putting up with each other will not challenge us. It will be the natural response. How does love help us to forbear?
• It is not too proud to put the other person’s feeling above their own
• It is not easily angered or provoked – It takes a lot to get it riled up.
• It is not rude or use language that incites others or is simply meant to hurt another person.
• It keeps no record of wrongs – it does not use the mistakes of the past against another.
• It does not get pleasure in the failings of another. It is saddened by it, and provoked to compassion not retribution.
• It seeks to protect the other person from accusations or harm.
• It always hopes for the best, and perseveres through whatever comes to support the other person toward reconciliation.
• It never fails.
Conclusion: Putting up with each other is preparing our hearts to forgive each other. Tonight we look closer at forgiveness. How can we show the world we belong to Jesus?
- Colossians 3:12-13 – 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 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.