“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” —Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
I love this short exhortation from Ignatius of Antioch (he was a late first century bishop of the Christian church, martyred in 115 AD): Labor with one another, struggle together, run together, suffer together, rest together, rise up together as God's stewards and assessors and servants.
When you labor with someone you, in essence, chose to join them in their work. You get your hands dirty. You experience what they experience. You can relate to them in a more intimate way because you have calloused your hands right along with them.
Relational currency grows when you labor with someone. If you want to succeed in your labor you will learn to bear one another’s grievances. You will learn to forgive quickly. Your love will grow so strong, that forgiveness will be of little use because love will cover.
The Apostle Paul says struggle exists as a way for us to relate to one another, to offer help to one another. Have you experienced a particular tragedy or pain? The scar may hurt from time to time, but the pain you bore can now be used to encourage another person going through the same thing.
In an increasingly fragmented world, let us allow our faith to draw us close to one another. Let us struggle, together, and learn of God’s glory through the mending cracks of our toil.
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.