As someone who runs and someone who walks a lot at work, I’m aware of the durability of that combination. Patience and gentleness get us further through the day in our relationships than we can imagine. So when you pull spiritual shoes out of the closet in the morning, put on shoes to carry you for the long run rather than shoes that will attract attention.
And then Paul moves on to talk about how we are to be together in community. He suggests a two-stage process.
It starts with bearing with each other, putting up with each other.
We’ve all gone through that. “I don’t like this about you, but I’ll put up with it.” It’s an important step, actually. Choosing to work with people who annoy you or who you disagree with can be hard. But it is a calling, an invitation, a possibility.
But then Paul pushes us to forgive each other, just as God forgives us. Acknowledging the pain AND letting go of the retribution. This is a harder, deeper step often. But by giving us the space to be together on the way to forgiveness, and then by offering an example, we can start practicing forgiving.
And then, Paul says, over all of this put on a jacket of love. All of the details matter, but they are wrapped up in love. Love for God, love for each other. And with that at the outer layer, love becomes what people see, what we are known for, at least to each other.