People of God, I have found that it is quite easy for us to talk the talk about love, but when it is time to walk the walk of love, it is a different ball game entirely.  For example, we have learnt that love makes allowances for others, but when you really think about it you find that many of us go into relationships with expectations that are quite rigid.  We find that many of us can be quite tolerant of other persons as long as they are doing things in the way we approve.  However, immediately they do things differently from the way we are accustomed to, or the way we feel it should be done, we are not quite as tolerant anymore.  It does not take much time before we swing into our critical nature. The Bible however says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you” – Colossians 3:13a(NLT).  Yes, make allowance, give room, for each other’s faults.  This is to say we should not be quick to go into the critical mode when we feel people are not doing things the way we think they ought to do it.  Making allowance for each other’s faults is one of the key aspects of showing love. The way many of us react to issues at times makes one wonder whether we have ever heard about the parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35).  If God makes allowance for us, why can we not make allowance for others.

The idea of making allowance for other people’s faults means that when we go into relationships, we go into them fully aware that people are not perfect. Our Lord Jesus Christ knew that Apostle Peter will deny Him three times before the cock crows the following day, yet He did not become critical of him.  Rather He said, “But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail” – Luke 22:32 (NLT).  He lifted him up in prayer, when He could go on a tirade against him like we will normally do.  This is what we are called to do.  When we see the failings of our brother, the love we have for them should lead us to make allowance for them and when it is necessary, we let them know the truth in a loving manner.  Jesus basically said, that is alright, but when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:32b).  He did not condemn him.  He prayed for him, and then told him exactly what will happen, but in love.

When in love we make allowance for other people’s faults; it means we are choosing to be positive about their faults and choose forgiveness over hatred and grudge.  Our Lord Jesus taught us to forgive those who sin against us “seventy times seven” times.  Our human nature is to hang on to hurt feelings, not making allowances for people’s mistakes, therefore not forgiving. And the more we hang on to the hurt feelings the more resentment we feel which makes it even harder for us to forgive.  Psalm 14:3 teaches that “There is none who does good”.  None of us is righteous, none of us is perfect.  When we know that, then we should learn to make allowance for the other person.

Whenever we decide not to make allowance for others, what naturally follows is to become critical and to condemn.  We behave like a people with critical spirit who always use a wrong standard to judge people.  The Bible however has taught us to remove the log in our eyes before removing the speck in other peoples’ eyes (Matthew 7:5).  Let us all pray that God will deliver us from the critical spirit.  We know we have overcome a critical spirit when we are characterized by a forgiving spirit because we know we have also been forgiven by God.  That is why our God is the God of love and the God of grace.

People who have a critical spirit are never gracious.  They seek to put down rather than lift up.  Many times, we do this under the guise of speaking the truth. If we truly love every truth, we speak to each other, even when we are trying to correct someone who is derailing, it should be done with the aim of lifting that person up and not condemning them or tearing them down.  The word of God in I Thessalonians 5:8 says we should put on a breastplate of faith and love, and then goes on in verse 11 to say, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”  The essence of making allowance for each other is so that we can be gracious to the ones we love just as our God is always gracious to us.  We have been graciously forgiven by God for all the sins we have committed.  He even sent His one and only son to die on the cross for our sins.  When we make allowance for other people’s faults, it is the natural response of someone who is forgiven by Jesus, the response of one who has been washed by the blood and is ready to extend the same grace to the people of God.  May the Lord Himself teach us to be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of our love for them (Ephesians 4:2b).

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