Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
In 2005, Collins falsified a report that resulted in McGee being thrown in prison for four years, and McGee vowed to find Collins when he got out and “hurt him.” McGee was eventually exonerated, but not before he lost everything. Meanwhile, Collins’s many falsified reports were uncovered, he lost his job, and he too spent time behind bars. But both men came to faith in Christ while in prison.
In 2015, the two discovered they were working together in the same faith-based company. Collins recalls, “I [told McGee], ‘Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I’m sorry.’” It was “pretty much what I needed to hear,” said McGee, who graciously forgave him. The men were able to reconcile because both had experienced the incomparable love and forgiveness of God, who empowers us to “forgive as the Lord forgave [us]” (Colossians 3:13).
Now the two are great friends. “We have this joint mission . . . of letting the world know that if you owe an apology to somebody, put your pride down and go apologize,” said Collins. “And if you’re holding something against somebody, let go of the bitterness because it’s like drinking poison and hoping it’s hurting them.”
God calls believers to live in peace and unity. If we have “a grievance against someone,” we can bring it to Him. He will help us to reconcile (vv. 13–15; Philippians 4:6–7).
Dear Father, thank You for forgiving us when we come to You in sorrow over our sins. Help us to receive Your forgiveness and to extend it to others.
Christ sets us free to forgive.
Many of the themes in Colossians 3:12–17 are repeated in Ephesians 4–5. Paul challenges followers of Christ at Colossae and Ephesus to have a forgiving spirit (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13), to love one another (Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 3:14), to live in the peace of Christ (Ephesians 4:3; Colossians 3:15), to allow the message of Christ or the Holy Spirit to dwell within them and fill them (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16), and to worship God with singing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). And everything is to be saturated with a thankful spirit (Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:15).
The common denominator is that we’re incapable of doing any of it in our own strength. It’s only as the Spirit fills us and the gospel changes our hearts that the higher ground of the Christ-life will be expressed in us.
For further study on forgiveness, see When Forgiveness Seems Impossible at discoveryseries.org/cb941.