Accept other believers who are weak in faith,
and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.
Accepting another person doesn’t necessarily mean accepting their beliefs or practices.
Accepting someone whose beliefs or practices aren’t the same as mine isn’t easy. Growing up, I was taught Sunday was a sacred day. The most Mom could do was cook Sunday lunch. No washing clothes, working in the yard, or going to the store. The day was reserved for attending church and resting.
Seeing someone cutting grass or working in the yard on Sunday was unusual. Could I accept such a person? Or what about the person who didn’t have the same philosophy about child rearing, dancing, playing cards, music, manner of dress, or mode of baptism? Then there’s the person who doesn’t even share my faith—and doesn’t want to.
Paul is specifically referring to acceptance among believers in Romans 14:1. The plethora of denominations around us proves believers don’t agree on a number of things. Divisions within denominations show there is disagreement even among like-minded believers. Acceptance was also a problem in the first-century church. For example, some thought it was acceptable to eat meat that had been used in pagan rituals; others didn’t approve of it.
I should accept all people because they are God’s creations. He loves them. They’re made in His image, and they have the potential to be used by Him. Accepting them, however, doesn’t mean I have to accept their beliefs or copy their actions. Acceptance is not approval.
When I allow pride into my life, I reject others instead of accepting them. I may think I’m better than they are because I follow God or because my brand of spiritual living is better than theirs. Beliefs I was taught in childhood by well-meaning parents can easily lead me astray. Maybe the people who went to the store on Sunday weren’t so bad after all. Perhaps they had a better understanding of spiritual freedom than I did. Misunderstanding God’s love can prompt me to avoid others rather than accept them. God loves all people; however, He doesn’t approve of all their actions.
I can accept others without accepting their opinions or lifestyles. What barrier do you need to tear down so you can accept others as God does?
* * *
Join the conversation by adding your comments below.
What keeps you from accepting others?
by Martin Wiles
Martin Wiles is a minister, author, English teacher, and freelance editor currently living in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is the author of six books, including his two latest, Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He has been published in a number of periodicals, books, and newspapers. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.