“Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you.”
Paul says to put up with each other. He says put up with your friends’ faults, your neighbors’ mistakes, your enemies’ wrongs. He reminds you to forgive the other person “because the Lord forgave you.”
I ask you — what’s more critical: to hold the other to a high standard of behavior or to forgive the other for not reaching that high standard?
I maintain Jesus comes to earth to give us the highest standard which is mercy. James tells us that “mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 3:13, NIV) He writes:
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” (James 3:12-13)
Yes, Jesus tells you to be perfect because your Heavenly Father is perfect. But God’s perfection is attained not by your groping efforts or by your demand for good behaviors, but through the mercies of Christ on the cross. The blood of bulls and goats are not able to appease God’s wrath; only mercy is capable of bringing you to holiness.
Therefore, Jesus says:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 7:27-28, NIV)
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that… But love your enemies, do good to them without expecting to get anything back.” (Luke 7:32-33, 35; NIV)
“Do good…without expecting anything…” Ultimately that is the Christian life : being merciful.