Colossians 3:13a

Forbearing One Another



1. Quarrel Defined: Complaint; reason for a complaint; find fault; grievance.

2. IF – Third class condition: assumed as POSSIBLE (ify)

a. Ean and subjunctive. (potential action)

b. Paul is not stating for a fact that there WERE quarrels there, but assumes that it is quite possible.

c. I’m not sure if Paul meant this IF to be a tongue in cheek IF, but he certainly must have known that quarrels WOULD come to these folks in time!

d. So he gives instruction “should” any quarrels come their way!

e. Should any quarrels come OUR way… we have some divinely inspired instructions on how to deal with them!

3. That is a pretty fair assumption to conclude that in any assembly of believers there will be quarrels.

a. This is because the church at Colossae was full of men and women who were saved… but saved folks are still SINNERS…

b. Sinners saved by grace, but sinners who nonetheless still get angry, still hurt the feelings of others, still offend, still cause trouble…

c. The church at Colossae was full of folks who still had a SIN nature… which means there is bound to be friction.

d. The fact that we are born again does not exempt us from people problems… trials… offences… grievances… complaints against other believers.

4. The early church had its share of quarrels among believers.

a. There arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected. (Acts 6:1)

b. Paul had a sharp quarrel with Barnabus. (Acts 15:36-39)

c. Paul and Peter had a spat. (Gal. 2:14)

d. The Corinthians had quarrels among themselves. (I Cor. 1:10-12; 6:7)

e. The apostle had to rebuke Euodias and Syntyche for their quarrel. (Phil. 4:2)

f. Unfortunately, such quarrellings have continued throughout the church age. Believers don’t always get along!
• It destroys Christian fellowship.
• It ruins marriages.
• It divides churches… splits…

g. This is exactly what our enemy wants: divide and conquer!

h. We will have quarrellings in our midst too. Controversy is bound to arise.

5. Life is FULL of quarrels, conflicts, offences, and hurts… which leave scars and deep wounds.

a. And sadly, it seems that the people we love the most, we hurt the most… whether in the home… in the local church…

b. As sinners, we sin against God; but we also sin against each other.

c. Jas. 3:2 – In MANY things we ALL offend! This is a cold, hard fact of life. We all have tongues and we all have tempers… a dangerous combination.

d. And even Christians do this!

e. Let’s admit it. We have all BEEN offended by a brother, and we have all OFFENDED a brother… and probably many times over!

f. This can be shattering to a new believer… who wrongly assumes that once he is saved, life is going to be a pathway of roses. Not so. Roses come with thorns.

g. The abundant life in Christ has its trials and people problems too…

h. Insults, hurts, injuries, abuse, offences, quarrels, and trespasses WILL come our way… and sometimes through believers! There is not avoiding them entirely.

i. But HOW we DEAL with them when they do come is what really matters!


1. Defined: to sustain, to bear, to endure; to hold back; to bear with, have patience with in regard to the errors or weaknesses of anyone; to put up with.

2. Present participle.

a. This indicates that the action of forbearing is to occur simultaneously with the “putting on” of the mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering.”
• In other words, being forbearing with one another is not to be done in a proud, arrogant manner. (How long must I put up with this fool?)
• Rather, it is to be accompanied by meekness and humbleness of mind… and mercy and kindness… a Christlike spirit.
• It is possible to be forbearing by biting one’s tongue, grinding one’s teeth, and scowling on the inside… looking down upon another person as an inconvenience… like putting up with mosquitoes!
• It is possible to be forbearing because we HAVE to… as a DUTY…
• But as we saw last week, just as God gives us the power to be longsuffering with JOYFULNESS, He also gives us power to be forbearing in humility and kindness!
• Forbearance is to be manifested IN CONJUNCTION WITH the other qualities we are to PUT ON.

b. The present tense also indicates that forbearance is to be an ongoing attitude of the believer…
• We can’t say, “O I tried being forbearing with that guy, but it didn’t work.”
• It doesn’t matter whether it “works” or not. God says to do it!
• The purpose of being forbearing is not to CHANGE the other guy… but to change SELF!
• God commands ME to be forbearing with those who sin against me… whether the offending party responds or not!
• Forbearing is what I am to BE. It is not a tool I am to use to manipulate someone else… or to cause them to change their behavior… or to change the circumstances.
• We are to be continuously forbearing with the one who offends us, insults, hurts, or sins against us.
• But what if the hurt and the offence continue all year long? Be continually forbearing!
• But what if it is a grievous offence against me and it is tearing me apart on the inside? Be continually forbearing.
• But what if I’m innocent and it’s all their fault? Be continually forbearing. That’s what the verse says.

3. Some of the proverbs describe forbearance for us.

a. Prov. 10:12 – Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (cover – to cloth; cover; conceal)

b. Prov. 12:16 – A fool’s wrath is presently? known: but a prudent man covereth shame.
• Of course Solomon is NOT speaking about hiding our OWN sins… or condoning or hiding the gross sins of others. He also wrote: ?He that covereth his sins shall not prosper.
• Forbearance doesn’t tolerate gross sin, but it does not attack every little indiscretion of others either.
• Prudence is needed (wisdom; discernment; discretion). The wisdom to know WHEN an indiscretion needs to be overlooked and covered… and when it needs to be dealt with.
• If a brother insults you – most of the time it is best to bury it.
• If it gets under your skin and you are losing sleep over it, or it is affecting your spiritual life, then confront the brother. But otherwise, it is usually best to cover it up… be forbearing.

c. Prov. 19:11 – The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
• In other words, WISDOM and discretion demand that we not become persnickety… that we learn to be forbearing with one another in all of our shortcomings.
• A man without discretion will POUNCE all over the tiniest infraction… and end up with no friends… who wants to be around a person who has zero tolerance for our shortcomings? (I don’t—because I have a lot of shortcomings!)
• The kind of person Solomon describes in this proverb is one who usually overlooks no infractions except his own.
• A man who possesses wisdom and discretion will learn when, where, under what circumstances to overlook the indiscretions of others.

d. Prov. 17:9 – He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
• LOVE is sacrificing self for the good of others. Forbearance by its very nature is an aspect of love…
• It takes self-sacrifice to be forbearing… to put up with the unkindness of others… to turn the other cheek… rather than retaliate…
• When you are having a quarrel with someone, it makes SELF feel good to reveal and repeat their faults and make them look bad… but LOVE sacrifices self for their good.
• A prudent man will realize the consequences of NOT being forbearing… of NOT covering up the faults of others… of the broken friendships and relationships that might result… and will choose to BURY it… cover it… rather than separate friends.
• Think of JOSEPH when his brothers were before him.
» They sold him into slavery…
» Then, he rose to be Prime Minister of Egypt… and they came to him in a time of famine begging food.
» He COULD have said, “Now I have you right where I want you!”
» He could have broadcast their sin all over Egypt and made an example of them… and had an elaborate execution of them…
» But instead, he buried it.
» He said, “Now therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourself that ye sold me hither… for God did send you before me to preserve life.” (Gen. 45:5)
» After all the years of hurt, loneliness, misery, grief, and sorrow they caused him, he was willing to bury their sin…
» Solomon wrote: He that covereth a transgression seeketh love.
» Joseph sought love… brotherly love… love bears all things… even decades of wrongful imprisonment and slavery! That’s forbearance… holding back… when he could have let them have it!

• And in a marriage, it is vital for us to SEEK LOVE by covering transgression…
• After you have been married for a while, you know HOW to get your spouse angry.
• Over time, you learn what buttons to press and when to press them.
• And all you have to do is start pressing those buttons to make them feel miserable…
• Forbearance is holding back… even though it might feel good to press that button…
• Seek love… love bears all things…

e. And forbearance is NOT being SOFT with sin.
• It is simply acknowledging that GOD is the judge of all sin, and all sinners… not us.
• It is acknowledging that it is not up to ME to correct all the wrongs in the world… or to make all the crooked things straight.
• The Lord will do all that according to His timetable.
• Until then, we need to learn to be forbearing with others.

f. There will be times when sin needs to be confronted, but there are many times when it is best to let love cover it… to pass over a transgression.
• It is not necessary to confront every word spoken out of line; every rude action; every impolite deed; every dot and tittle.
• Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes: there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
• Wisdom knows the difference… when to be forbearing and pass over an insult or a transgression against you, and when to confront the offender.
• And OH would our lives be much improved if we all had that kind of prudence, discretion, and wisdom!

4. Forbearance is also a fruit of the Spirit. Gal. 5:22

a. When we are yielded to God, we will be highly critical of self, but we will be much more forbearing with one another.

b. I Cor. 13:7 – We saw that love suffers long (longsuffering). Love also BEARS all things
• This is not the same word for “forbearing” but is similar in meaning.
• Bears defined= στέγω – Strong’s: to protect or keep by covering, to preserve. 2to cover over with silence. 2ato keep secret; to hide, to conceal the errors and faults of others.
• Love covers up the faults of others… as opposed to uncovering and revealing them.
• Love is forbearing of the sins of others. Love covers all sins.

c. Eph. 4:2 = forbearing one another in LOVE.
• Love is also a fruit of the Spirit… and genuine love leads us to be forbearing with others.
• We all have our own peculiar quirks, idiosyncrasies, and areas of weakness. We want others to be forbearing with us. We need to be forbearing with them.

d. Do you want to seek to promote love?
• Rather than constantly pointing out the indiscretions of others, cover them up!
• Don’t keep on picking at them… don’t keep pointing to them… don’t keep pecking at them… hold back… forbearing one another in love.

5. It takes a very healthy dose of forbearance to have a successful marriage.

a. If you are rigid and unbending, and unwilling to be forbearing with the weaknesses and flaws of a spouse, do everybody a favor… and DON’T get married!

b. When sinners live under the same roof, quarrels and controversy is bound to arise…

c. If you are unwilling to be forbearing towards the foibles and frailties of your spouse, your marriage is doomed to failure!

d. If you are unwilling to allow LOVE to cover up the sins and shortcomings of others in the home…

e. If you demand justice against every little infraction that occurs in the home, your home isn’t going to last.

6. Most often in the home, it is the husband who lacks longsuffering and is short fused.

a. Most of the proverbs that deal with anger speak of men.

b. A wrathful man stirreth up strife.

c. He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.

d. A furious man aboundeth in transgression.

e. A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment.

f. Make no friendship with an angry man.

g. Women are guilty of this too, but lacking longsuffering (short fused) seems to be a worse problem for us men.

7. But a lack of forbearance seems to be a worse problem for women.

a. Prov. 21:19 – It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
• Contentious: disputes; contentions; — one who keeps on picking a fight… stirring up contention…
• Angry: often translated “provoke”—used often of provoking the Lord to anger.
• Solomon describes the woman who has a knack for starting fights and provoking anger.
• Forbearance involves holding back… instead of pouncing on every infraction… holding back.
• Instead of being forbearing and putting up with the weaknesses of her husband, she provokes him to anger by picking… she doesn’t hold back.
• Solomon said that such a man will conclude that it is better to live in the wilderness alone than to have to deal with that!
• In his comments of the proverb, Matthew Henry summarized: NO company is better than bad company!

b. Prov. 27:15 – A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.

• How are they alike?
• In Bible times, the roofs were often made of sod, which would absorb most of the rain in a small shower.
• But on a very rainy day they would become saturated.
• And long after the storm ended, the saturated sod would continue to drip… drip… drip… Even when the clouds are gone and the sun is shining, it is still raining and dripping inside… and driving the occupants crazy!
• A nagging wife is like that. Long after the fight is over, she will continue to bring it up again… and again… and again… continual nagging… like the continual dripping…
• “I thought you were going to fix the fence last week. And you left your dirty socks on the floor again… I bet Jane’s husband doesn’t do that… and you were supposed to pick up milk on the way home… I suppose you forgot again…”
• And the man who has been under pressure all day at work… and expects to come home for some peace and quiet he may not be able to handle that.
• To him, living in the wilderness might be preferable!
• Of course Solomon is not suggesting that. It is sort of a tongue in cheek proverb… but there is truth to it.
• If a wife wants a happy home, she needs to learn to be forbearing.
• If the fence needs painting, mention it once and drop it… and then just pray and leave it to God to bring it to his mind. He walks by the fence every day. He knows the paint is chipping off. When he’s ready, he’ll paint it. If not, it’s better to let the fence fall apart rather than have the marriage fall apart.
• Be forbearing. Learn to put up with things you don’t like… Nagging isn’t going to get the fence painted any faster.

c. It takes forbearance for a parent to bring up a two year old!
• They are going to break things, drool, mess, throw food, spill their milk, write on the wall… all the things 2 year olds do.
• If you are unwilling to be forbearing—don’t have kids!
• If a parent is NOT forbearing, but comes down hard on every little infraction from their children, they will provoke those kids to anger!
• They will assume that NOTHING can please dad or mom, so why bother trying?
• Husbands are told to dwell with their wives according to knowledge. It’s a good idea to dwell with our children with knowledge too… knowledge of where they are mentally, socially, and spiritually…
• Parents need to be forbearing, or their children will become frustrated and angry…

8. Forbearance is needed in the local church ministry too.

a. It takes forbearance in dealing with new believers in the local church too… and with others who may not be growing at the rate we would like to see.
• We would all like to see instant maturity, but it just doesn’t happen that way!
• Just as a toddler might drool and trip a lot when he tries to walk, so too, spiritually, a new believer will drool and trip a lot… doing the things new believers do.
• We need to be forbearing with one another… understanding of where they are spiritually; at what level of maturity… etc.
• If we are overly zealous, critical nags to new believers, we will drive them away!
• Like the husband who concludes that it is better to live alone in the wilderness than to dwell with a brawling nagging wife… these new believers will conclude that it is better not to go to church at all than to go to church with folks who continually pick on every tiny issue in their lives… especially if they are not mature enough to understand WHY they are being criticized.
• Be forbearing. Be gracious. Learn to WAIT upon the Lord. It is GOD who gives the increase… which results in spiritual growth.

b. I Cor. 4:11-13 – forbearance is needed in the ministry.
• Paul stated that in spite of the awful treatment he received, he said, “we suffer it.” (same word as forbearing).
• Paul realized that if he was going to serve the Lord, there WOULD be many difficult times… difficult people to deal with… difficult trials to face.
• But he demonstrated forbearance… he put up with a lot… because he knew it was the LORD’S work and it was worth it!
• We can have our feelings hurt a LOT in serving the Lord… even in the local church… some of our worst wounds are received in the local church…
• But forbearance is needed. It is required. It is commanded.
• When we are convinced that what we are striving towards is of great VALUE (as Paul did in the Lord’s work)… we will persevere and be forbearing… willing to put up with a LOT… unwilling to quit.
• As good soldiers of Jesus Christ we are to endure HARDSHIPS. That’s what good soldiers do… when their cause is deemed to be worthy!
• Any goal worth achieving is worth putting up with the inconveniences and discomfort of getting there!
• If your goal is to climb a mountain… you have to be forbearing with respect to your sore knees and feet.
• If your goal is to build a church building, it is worth putting up with all the cost and inconvenience of erecting it!
• And if your goal is to be used of the Lord as Christ builds His church… the assembly… it too is worth putting up with the personal cost and inconvenience along the way… (the insults; slights; mistreatment; gossip; stepping on toes; being ignored; etc.)
• Forbearance requires patience, waiting, and a willingness to sacrifice… something we as Americans don’t do well with. We want everything to go our way and to go our way right away.
• We don’t like to put up with things… we like everything quick and easy… but life isn’t like that. The Lord’s work isn’t like that.
• It requires FORBEARANCE on our part… and not just “putting up with people”… but doing so in a spirit of meekness, humbleness of mind… and the JOY of the Lord!

c. It is not our nature to be willing to put up with all the shortcomings of others… but when filled with the Spirit of God, we will BE forbearing!
• If we are willing to yield ourselves unto God, He will fill us with the controlling power of His indwelling Spirit.
• When we are filled with the Spirit… the Holy Spirit produces Christlike fruit in us… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,? meekness, temperance.
• This is CHRIST being manifested in our mortal bodies. This is God’s purpose for this age… it is the GLORY of the local church…
• This goal is WORTH putting up with a lot.
• Are you mountain climbers willing to put up with sore feet to be able to reach the glorious summit, and then to sit and REST upon the peak of that mountain… and breathe in that fresh mountain air…
» There is something very satisfying about putting up with discomfort in order to achieve such a goal.
» Dwelling in that high place even for a little while is WORTH putting up with all it took to get there.
• Are YOU servants of Christ willing to put up with insult… hurt… unkindness… cruelty… persecution… in order to be to reach new heights of spiritual maturity… and to experience that inner REST that only comes from yielding to God… and to dwell in heavenly places… breathing in that heavenly air?
» Hebrews tells us that it takes LABOR to enter into God’s rest… putting self aside by faith… willing to let self suffer… allowing self to put up with a lot… for a greater goal—to manifest Christlike qualities in our mortal flesh.
» There is something much MORE satisfying about putting up with all the difficulties it takes to walk worthy of the Lord…
» Dwelling in heavenly places in our daily lives is WORTH putting up with whatever it takes to get us there… and it takes FORBEARANCE.
» Paul said: I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.
• Forbear one another. Love bears all things.


Rom. 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? He is putting up with a lot of grief from sinners, WAITING for men to repent…

Rom. 3:25 — 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. God was forbearing with respect to judgment on sin all throughout the Old Testament period… or men would have instantly been cast into the Lake of Fire.

II Pet. 3:9 — The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God IS forbearing and longsuffering… but His longsuffering will not last forever.
One day judgment will come. The day of grace will come to a close.
Are you ready to meet God? You can meet Him as your Savior today… He is forbearing… waiting… inviting you to come in faith.
OR you can meet Him later as your Judge… when it is too late…

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