Making Allowances

Fault 2While I appreciate the sentiment of this statement, I have one major problem with it: Sometimes it does. Sometimes, poor planning – what many consider a “fault” – by another requires emergency action on my part.

Consider the following “faults,” inserting your own story.

She doesn’t handle last-minute changes well.

He doesn’t keep track of commitments.

She does most of her work last-minute.

He does not listen very well.

In such instances, there was a time when I would verbalize my irritation and either let others flounder in their faults or at the very least be uncomfortable in the wrath of my irritation. But then Colossians 3:13 got into my spirit:

Faults 1

For years, I simply did not want to make allowances. I wanted to correct people. I wanted to be justified in walking away in times of emergency or at least in making my annoyance clear as I bailed them out once again. Unfortunately, those reactions only allowed my emotions to rule and failed to cultivate relationships.

The only way I could begin applying what Paul meant when he instructed the church in Colossae to “make allowances for each other’s faults”  involved admitting that I too am part of the “each other.” In other words, I too have faults that others need to make allowances for regularly. And I want them to, right?

Doesn’t that mean they will, but I can only control my end of the “each other” and no one else’s. This involves realizing that making allowances doesn’t mean saying the faults are okay and don’t need changed; instead, it means that we take the fact that we all have faults into consideration and our New Nature Relationships strengthen as grace flows.

AllowancesHow to Make Allowances

Let’s look at Colossians 3:13 in context (vv. 12-15) for instruction on carrying out this aspect of cultivating relationships as we put on our new nature clothing showing we belong to Christ and are grateful for Him choosing us, making us holy, and loving us. In other words, how we treat others, including how we respond to their faults, reflects our inner ensemble, which includes:

  1. Tenderhearted mercy – Making undeserved allowances in a way that avoids hurting the offender even when justified in doing so.
  2. Kindness – Instead of lashing out because of chronic inconvenience, proceed in a way that preserves and strengthens the relationship.
  3. Humility – Not showing your rightness, but instead covering others weakness. You can either be right or have relationship; humility chooses relationship.
  4. Gentleness – Allowing and even helping the offender maintain and move forward with dignity.
  5. Patience – Allowing the mental space to recognize and correct faults, which are likely a frustrating struggle.

Right after instructions for making allowances, Paul says to complete the outfit of our new selves by forgiving others and by wearing love, which he calls “the most important piece of clothing.” Paul stresses forgiveness because “the Lord forgave you” and love because it binds believers “in perfect harmony.”

Cultivating Relationship

As we look at the details of cultivating New Nature Relationships, we begin to see how the focus must come off self and onto showing love. In our own efforts, impossible. But through the Holy Spirit, we are free to operate wearing the clothing of the new nature.

DISCUSSION: How might your current relationships benefit from “making allowances for each other’s faults”?

21 thoughts on “Making Allowances

  1. Anyone in leadership has to learn (IMHO) about making allowances for others' mistakes, shortcomings, procrastination, etc. It looks awful bad when the leader has to say, "I'm not prepared" and unless he wants to throw someone/some people under the bus, he will have to take the fall for that. In leadership. In life we need to be ready at a moment's notice to switch gears. Well said and timely Kari. (BTW: I like your new heading)
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  2. I used to be more dismissive of people who didn't fit into my preconceived ideas of what it meant to be a friend. I ended one friendship because I didn't understand his personality – an extrovert and more prone to inconsistencies.

    More recently, my relationships have grown because I stopped holding high expectations over people. I try to accept them for who they are and for the level of friendship they desire to have.

    A couple of years ago, I wanted to build a stronger friendship with a casual friend. However, he seems to have few close friends and lots of acquaintances. I couldn't quite take the friendship to greater depths. Nonetheless, he has since moved, but I still occasionally talk with him. In the past, I would have dismissed his friendship because it didn't go where I wanted it to go. Instead, I still have a casual friendship with him because I didn't dismiss him all together.
    My recent post We Don’t Need Any More Productivity Techniques

    • Terrific examples, Chris. I can relate to each one of them to at least some extent. That awareness is really important in helping us to cultivate godly relationships. You also touched on points in upcoming posts on relationships, so you've really gotten at my heart on this topic.

  3. I do think you have to choose the higher road to do this; choose to let things go; to not hold a grudge; to not call into account mistakes. It is a choice to choose the relationship over irritation and it takes commitment to do so. One blow up on your part may take away any chance to keep it intact. It helps to try to understand where the other person is coming from; the difficulties they have to deal with in life; or to try to imagine that their behavior may be coming from something like that.
    Even saying all of this sometimes in a relationship if it is to be deep you have to discuss things that bother you. You have to discuss expectations. Even doing this can strengthen a relationship for anything that helps each person understand the other should build the relationship. So sometimes we do have to step up and not accept a behavior but if we do we need to deal with it in a manner that coveys you want the relationship over whatever concern you may have. You convey that you place the relationship over whatever is bothering you.

    • Well said, Mark. Relationship must be placed above all else, especially our own intentions, ideas, etc. Discussing expectations is huge for cultivating and growing relationships as well as being willing to talk about the tough stuff when necessary and appropriate. When we place relationship above all else right from the start, we are in a better place to discuss the tough stuff when it becomes necessary to do so. I am experiencing this with my boys right now. Relationship – showing love – truly allows for us to grow and thrive as individuals. Thanks, Mark!

  4. Great discussion starter, Kari. As someone who tends to err on the side of making allowances, I do think there is a place for allowing people to experience the consequences of their choices. It’s better for them and earns us more respect. It’s so important in parenting, as you know. There has to be a balance in there somewhere. I keep saying that. Lol

  5. I believe that it really helps disarm people. And if they're undergoing some challenge in their life, they will value you "going above and beyond" the norm. This is a great way to be a servant and really appreciate you taking this discussion deep.

    • That's a great way to put it, "disarm people." Amazing what acceptance of people does for how they act/react toward you, isn't it? Also appreciate you tying this to being a servant, to considering others more than yourself. Hadn't thought of it quite in those terms, but doing so certainly does open up this idea of "Making Allowances" even more! Thanks for adding even more depth to the discussion.

  6. I do well remembering to allow for other’s faults (most of the time), but the ones I easily forget this reality with is myself and my family. I am much harder on those closest to me because I “expect more.” Grace, love, forgiveness–it’s important for all of us. Good thoughts, Kari. Thank you.
    My recent post Keys to Bulking Up and Breaking Through

    • I do the same thing, Jason. As I realize this again through this post & the comments, I am trying to be more mindful of doing it and of having grace. I hope for the same from other. Hard to do sometimes.

    • This is definitely something marriage can teach us. I learned it largely because my husband did it for me. He has been so gracious at making allowances for me, and he set the example for sure. Recently, it's helped me in my other relationships too, those outside of my immediate family. You are setting a tremendous example for your wife and kids in this that will ripple well beyond what you can see right now. Keep it up!

  7. Another great post and topic!

    God calls us to quickly forgive and forget what others have done to us. This can be easier said than done though. I’ve found knowing remembering and keeping in mind that we all have weak areas and we all will blow it at times helpful when it comes to being prepared when someone let’s me down or does a hurtful thing toward me. We are humans and it will happen. We can’t always determine what happens to us or around us BUT we can always chose how we will react. Making sure not to sin our self’s. Great thoughts!

    • Thanks, Dan. We must always remember the grace & mercy we receive as we then turn to forgive others and give them grace and mercy. We need to remember, like God called the Israelites to do, not just what we came from but more so what God has done and what He promises to do.

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