Wow! What a subject to grapple with… learning to accept one another in the same way that Christ accepted us! (Romans 15:1-7)
So, it begs the question. How did Christ accept us? Was His acceptance a reflection of His approval for our sin? Was He supporting our poor choices and rebellion? Was He just looking for some “positive” features to our lives so He could affirm us anyway He could?
No. Acceptance is not the same thing as approval. It is a much bigger and broader concept than that. The story in John 8 makes very clear that Jesus accepted the woman caught in adultery AND expected her to repent and move on! Acceptance is not a blind endorsement of “whatever.”
But acceptance does begin with the softening of our own hearts. We need to remember that we too were weak, ungodly, sheep without a shepherd, and Christ stepped out of eternity to pay the price for our salvation. His motive was His deep and personal love.
When we encounter someone who sins differently than we do, it is easy to form a wall and be critical. We really have three options at that moment. We can cut them out of our lives, live with them in a constant state of frustration or accept that they have blown it too.
When we see them in the same state that we have been in (sinful rebellion against a holy God), there is an attitude adjustment that takes place. And as we lean into that new attitude, we can respond in grace. We can temper our reaction with a bit of understanding and patience (the same kind of understanding we received from the Lord).
Acceptance is an opportunity to declare with sincerity of heart: “Me too! I deserved the wrath of God, but in His rich mercy, He responded in kindness to me (Titus 3:4-5). And I know He loves you in just that same way!” Acceptance is a “godly pause” that allows us to respond with gentleness and thoughtfulness.
One last thought. It is a process to learn to accept others in the same way that Jesus reached out to us. It is an active pursuit, an ongoing practice. We can get better at it. We can develop “spiritual muscles” that will help us to care more and criticize less. We can cultivate hearts of mercy. We can learn to love like the Lord does.
And when we do, it will bring praise to our Father.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)
Sherry Worel is a Bible teacher at heart and lives a life of ministry. She’s been involved at Coast Hills teaching Women’s LIFE, Bible studies, online courses, devotionals, participating in Upstream conversations, and much more. Having a love for education, Sherry has over 50 years of teaching experience with schools, churches, and mission agencies. As well as earning her Master’s at Talbot Seminary, she rounded out her education with 35 years as Head of School at Stoneybrooke Christian School. Sherry is happiest with a book or fishing pole in hand.