Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.Colossians 3:12-14 ESV
In this verse packed with rich instruction for how we are to be in relationship with our spouses, we are also told to bear with one another. Bearing with one another is more than just putting up with your spouse, it is the way God calls us to demonstrate love in our marriages.
To bear is a verb that means to carry, to suffer, to endure. A verb is an action word—that means God is instructing us to take action that demonstrates we are willing to step into the mess with our spouse and help to carry their load. It’s more than just saying the words, “I’m here for you,” it’s demonstrating those words through your actions. It’s not passively sitting by and watching your spouse manage their struggles, it’s rolling up your sleeves and getting into the fight with them.
If we are to bear with our spouses, we need to know them. We need to understand them deeply; we need to become students of their hearts; we need to become masters of their desires. We need to listen to their stories, their goals, their dreams. We need to know their past experiences, their past hurts, their struggles. We need to be familiar with their strongholds, we need to know where their hearts have hardened over injury. You simply cannot bear unless you fully understand what you are helping them to hold up. This takes time and effort, it takes intention and pursuit.
But here’s the tricky part—knowing your spouse this intimately means you see their ugly sin for what it is. It can be tempting in those moments to point that sin out, to harshly correct them, to deny the sin exists or to run away.
It’s in these moments you need to remember that Grace moved toward you while you were His enemy. You were dead in your trespasses, a child of wrath, but God chose to move toward you with grace and mercy—this is how He demonstrated His great love to you.
Grace in our marriages moves toward our spouses when we discover their weaknesses. Don’t misinterpret—grace never dismisses sin. It doesn’t excuse it away, and it never says it’s right. But grace does step into the mess and seeks God’s will. Grace asks how you can be a part of God working in your spouse’s heart. Grace demonstrates love by moving toward your spouse when they are trapped by the darkness they cannot see.
Bearing with others is not natural for us as humans. It’s natural for us to point fingers and judge. Grace suspends that judgment and instead chooses to step into the battle for your spouse. It is only because of God’s grace present in us as the Holy Spirit that we can even begin to do the work He calls us to do. But if we lean in, and we ask Him to show us how to bear as He bears, He will become the strong foundation that supports your marriage.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗