Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
The Greek word for “bearing with” (or being tolerant with) each other is anexo which means exercising self-restraint and tolerance; enduring (patiently), putting up with, forbearing each other. Webster’s Dictionary defines tolerance as “to be patient or self-controlled when subject to annoyance or provocation.” John Stott said, “forbearing one another speaks of that mutual tolerance without which no group of human beings can live together in peace.” 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 in the Living Bible says, “If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.” We are to bear with the personality quirks and differences with each other. However, forbearance does not mean that we ignore or overlook the sins of each other. We are called as believers in God to reprove other Christians and restore them gently when they are sinning (Galatians 6:1,2).
The word “tolerance”, in modern usage has changed its meaning. This new view of tolerance, says D.A. Carson (The Intolerance of Tolerance) is that “there is no one view that is exclusively true. Strong opinions are nothing more than strong preferences for a particular version of reality, each version equally true.” Carson goes on to say, “The definition of the new tolerance is that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal…There is no hierarchy of truth. Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal, and all truth is relative.” According to his view, “We must be tolerant, not because we cannot distinguish the right path from the wrong path, but because all paths are equally right.” In contrast, the Biblical view is that there is absolute Truth revealed by God in His Word.
The reason that we are to bear with each other is that God bears with us. Christ died so that our sins would be forgiven. God doesn’t ignore or overlook our sins, He provided the ransom for the forgiveness of our sins. He sees the best in us and looks at us not as we are, but as He knows we can be. He sees the potential in us. He sees beauty in us which we don’t even see in ourselves. Jesus knows us from the inside out, yet He bears with us, believes in us, sees the best in us, desires the best for us and loves us unconditionally. He knows what we have been, but He also sees what we can become. Let’s extend to others that same acceptance, dignity and forbearance. May the Lord give us the grace to choose to see the best and believe in the potential in each other.