“Jesus said, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ ” Luke 6:31 (NIV)
Acceptance: the act of accepting: the fact of being accepted: approval (Merriam-Webster)
This word can mean many things. Acceptance can mean you have received something and hold on to it. It can mean you have achieved the state of accepting someone or something, or contentment. It can mean you or something important to you has been accepted, or brought in.
We, as human beings, have the natural desire to feel accepted by others. We want to belong to that group, or even to that person. We want to be part of families, friendships, events. We want to be viewed by others to be or worth. We want, we want, we want.
But while we are wanting these things, what about how we are also giving acceptance? To the new kid on the block, or a new church member, or maybe a neighbor who does not seem to quite fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.
What we don’t want is to feel like we don’t belong. And because we know what that may feel like, we should also want others to not feel that way. We do have it in our power to make others feel welcome, useful, accepted. But if we are not careful, our words and actions can very easily portray quite the opposite. Instead, we should be holding out hands of welcome, showing acceptance and love.
Jesus taught acceptance. Remember, He went to the tax collector’s house and shared a meal with him, something that was thought to be a dreadful act in those days. He spoke with a Samaritan woman at a well. He loved His disciple, the one who betrayed Him. He accepted them all. Consider the woman with the alabaster box of perfumed oil. While others protested the waste, Jesus accepted her.
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.’ Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’ ” Matthew 26: 6-10
Not only did the other men disapprove of this woman, but we find that Jesus was actually in the house of Simon, who just happened to be a leper! This was totally beyond the pale with the majority of people of the time. But Jesus, because He loved, and loved well, did not care. He only cared for the person, the one who needed Him. This was the purest form of acceptance.
Jesus Himself was not always accepted, not then, and not now. There have always been those who wanted Him dead, and those today who claim that He is dead. But those who know Him, and His ways, know better. He is and always will be alive, and full of love and acceptance.
Jesus is Our Hope. And because He is, we can always count on His acceptance. He obviously will not accept our sin, but He will forgive it, and accept us as His children. And because He has modeled this behavior throughout His earthly ministry and all throughout the Word of God it is taught, we are to follow suit. Because when we do not accept a person, we reject Christ. Each person is made in the image of God, and this in and of itself is enough reason to treat them kindly, and to show acceptance of them as a person. We don’t have to accept their sin, but we also do not have the right to judge them for it. That is Jesus’ job, not ours. If Jesus can overlook a person’s flaws, so can we. After all, it might just be we have a flaw or two as well!
‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Have you ever experienced trouble accepting another person? If so, how did you handle it? Please comment here or go to www.mystoryofgrace.com, and share your story with us!