“Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” (Bob Carter)
While 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. Then Colossians 3:13 got into my spirit:
“You must make allowances for each other’s faults.”
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.
Doesn’t 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.
How to Make Allowances
Making allowances means pardoning, excusing, and taking mitigating factors or circumstances into consideration. Colossians 3:12-15 gives 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:
- Tenderhearted mercy – Making undeserved allowances in a way that avoids hurting the offender even when justified in doing so.
- Kindness – Instead of lashing out because of chronic inconvenience, proceed in a way that preserves and strengthens the relationship.
- Humility – Not showing your rightness but instead covering others weakness. You can either be right or have relationship; humility chooses relationship.
- Gentleness – Allowing and even helping the offender maintain and move forward with dignity.
- 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.”
Looking at the details of cultivating New Nature Relationships helps us see how the focus must come off self and onto showing love. In our own efforts, impossible. Through the Holy Spirit, though, we can freely operate wearing the clothing of our new natures.