Day 12

Living in Community

from the One Another reading plan

Ephesians 4:1-16, Hebrews 3:13

BY Bailey Gillespie

Living in community is a beautiful thing. On the best days, it might feel like a good dinner party as laughter rings out and each person brings a dish for the table only they know how to make. Other days, it’s a disaster. Broken dishes and broken trust. Everyone trying to talk over each other. You throw up your hands and claim you’ll never host another party again—and even if you do, you’re definitely not inviting those eight people. 

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:32). It’s much easier to fly off the handle or uninvite people from our lives, yet we are called to a “new self” (v.24), one that reflects God’s righteousness and His love for even the most unruly dinner guest. We have to remember how He shows us endless patience in our unruly behavior. 

On this journey of living in Christian community, God invites us into rhythms of deepening our relationships and, if possible, restoring them when they get broken. This is because we are “members of one another” (v.25). Isn’t that a crazy thought? God has created us as individuals, yet interdependent as His body. When we harm each other, we grieve Him. He wants us to forgive just as He forgave us (Colossians 3:13). 

This spring, a friend and I took a road trip from Tennessee to California, and somewhere around the plains of Wyoming, we found ourselves talking about what it means to truly forgive. Both of us have recent experiences trying to forgive a person or a group of people, and we had to ask the honest questions: Can you still feel anger and sadness after forgiving someone? Do you forgive only once, or is it an ongoing practice?

In my experience, choosing to forgive doesn’t mean I won’t continue to feel sadness or anger for a while. To be honest, it steals past me when I least expect us. Fortunately, Scripture doesn’t guarantee a timeline for moving through the pain. Forgiveness may be a one-time act, but like anything involving our hearts, it will also be an ongoing process. 

The truth is, sometimes God does ask us to step away from unhealthy relationships. It’s natural to mourn this loss, especially if a person or collective group once played a key role in our life. However, we can still practice kindness in the way we move forward, and we are still called to forgive them in our hearts as God has forgiven us. For now, on this side of heaven, they may no longer sit at our physical table, but if we are both pursuing God, we are a part of the same spiritual family. May Christ’s peace be present in our hearts as we seek to obey Him and love those around us (v.15).

Post Comments (47)

47 thoughts on "Living in Community"

  1. belle ingersoll says:

    wow. wow. wow. < this spoke to my ♡ today! forgiveness is such a hard thing to do when the world tells us to drop anyone who wronged us < Lord , help me to forgive those who have hurt me && share your ♡ with them!

  2. Hayley Hayhurst says:

    Forgiving those who have wronged you are the hardest to let go, but always for the best, and for clarity of mind❤️

  3. Naomi Cropper says:

    Amen. It’s so hard to do this, especially in a world where forgiving people is counter-culture. But the grace of God can cover so much. And if He chooses to forgive, who am I to say that forgiving is unnecessary?

  4. Minnette Stevenson says:


  5. Leslie Warnick says:

    Thank you Tina. Thank you for sharing your hurts and your healings. God is so good. Bless you my sister.

  6. Margaret W says:

    ERB, thanks for highlighting Tina’s words. I, too, plan to meditate on them as I struggle to let go of a pain I don’t understand but for which I have been blamed—one which cost me a very dear friendship.

  7. Jane K says:

    Thank you ladies for sharing your stories of forgiveness. They are full of hurts and pain but so beautiful in how God brought many of these stories to forgiveness. I am learning so much from them too. Thank you for those who prayed for my appointment at Mayo this week. There were some positives that came from it and hopefully more in the future. The medical staff were kind and I felt heard. I didn’t realize how important that was to my mental health.

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