Learning To Genuinely Accept Others
Finding ways to accept other when you don't agree with their behavior.
It is not uncommon to meet people whose lifestyle is different than ours and even contrary to a biblical lifestyle. This is an awkward tension to address within ourselves - the tension between how to love a friend or relative whose lifestyle choices are in radical disagreement from our beliefs. One example that comes to mind is that of homosexuality. It is a lifestyle that rebuked in Scripture and yet many of us know people who practice a gay lifestyle or those who are members of the greater LGBTQ community. So how do we handle this personal tension and maybe theological differences yet still have the grace to accept the individual who is made in the image of God?
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One | God loves people and hates sin.
This principle is true for every one of us. Yet the ultimate truth we must all face is that we are all also sinners as well. God loves us and sent Jesus to die for us but God must and will always hate the sin that has corrupted the relationship between Him and us. That is why Jesus offered his life as a sacrifice on the cross – to bear our punishment for the sin that prohibited God from being in a relationship with us. Remember that God hates our sin as much as he hates the sin of others.
Two | We need to love people and hate sin.
In the same way, we need to hate sin and love sinners. The Gospels tell us of a Jesus who loved people, no matter what their circumstances. If God were not loving, there never would have been an incarnation, the sacrifice on the cross, or a resurrected Jesus who defeated sin and death. The Creator became a creature so that his sinful beings could have a relationship with him. The thing about God's love is that it is totally unwarranted because we are sinful human beings. His generously extends an "in spite of our sin and circumstances" type of love.
And it's no different for us. We should accept others because Jesus accepts us. We demonstrate grace to others because Jesus demonstrated grace to us. We love others because Jesus loves us. He is our example. We cannot reject others when God has not rejected us.
We also need to learn to hate sin (ours and others) in the same way that Jesus does. Part of growing into maturity as a Christian is learning to hate our sin first and to be aware of our own sinful nature. We hate sin because it violates the holiness of God and the life He made us for.
Three | Remember, acceptance is not agreement.
When Jesus accepted the prostitute, the tax collector, the rich young ruler, the adulterous woman, and the woman caught in adultery, his acceptance never indicated agreement with their behavior. Instead, it was acceptance and love despite their behavior. We can learn to do the same.
It is a delicate balance to love and accept people while renouncing their sin, but it can be done. Remember, God did this with us. In fact, he still does. We accept people because they, like us, are made in the image of God. Marred images, yes! But images that God wants to reimage into His Image. There are no people that we should not accept. And there are many behaviors that we should not accept.
In a world where acceptance is all too rare. Showing the love and grace of Jesus will stand out. That is the first step toward people finding Him and allowing Him to deal with their sin.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.