Take your Bible and turn to Romans 15. We are in a series of lessons looking at the “one another” statements in the Bible. God’s Word says things like encourage one another, love one another, and forgive one another. All these “one another” statements we are calling Body Language. How the church body talks to one another, serves one another and encourages one another. Today we are looking at what God has to say about accepting one another.
Accepting one another sounds easy if you don’t think about it or try it. What makes the idea of acceptance difficult is our differences.
- We are different in personalities.
- We are different in gender.
- We are different in our spiritual growth.
- We are different in how we were raised.
- We are different in our convictions and beliefs about various things.
- We are different in our interest.
- We are different in how we communicate.
- We are different in our own weaknesses and strength.
- We are different in our preferences.
- We are different in some of our values.
If we don’t handle our differences well, they can easily divide us and instead of being accepting, we start rejecting one another pushing each other away. However, God is very clear. According to Romans 15:7 we are told to “accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (NLT). Let’s think about this statement today and apply some truths to our lives.
Accepting one another is a command
Number one, accepting one another is a command. This is not a suggestion by God. God wants and expects us to be accepting of others. Instead of being known for rejecting others, God’s wants His people to be known for their acceptance and love of others. This is a command to you and me to accept each other.
Accepting one another is to receive others with special care
Number two, accepting one another is to receive others with special care. This is not the type of acceptance where you role your eyes and say, “Ok, you can be on my team.” An example of this is seen in a guy named Onesimus. Just about the whole book of Philemon in the Bible is about this guy. Onesimus was a slave and he had run away. Paul and Onesimus had gotten connected somehow and Paul led Onesimus to the Lord. Somewhere during their time together Onesimus decided to go back to his master whose name was Philemon. So Paul wrote a letter to Philemon encouraging him to take back Onesimus, but in verse 17 of this letter Paul wrote the following “So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me” (Philemon 17, NLT). The word “welcome” (proslambano) has the exact same meaning as “accept” (proslambano) in Romans 15. Paul is saying I want you to place the same level of significance and value on him that you would place on me. Accepting one another is to receive another person with special concern and care and value. Accepting others is welcoming them into your life as you would treat someone who is important in your life. It’s placing value on the person, significance on the person and dignity on them.
Whenever you are not placing value and significance on someone you are already beginning to reject them. God says to you and me accept each other with our differences.
Accepting one another is not ignoring the person’s sin
Number three, accepting one another is not ignoring the person’s sin. You can accept someone and still address the sin in their life. Accepting someone does NOT mean you approve of everything they do, believe, or stand for. There are going to be times that the people who you love and accept are going to sin and are going to need to be confronted. Jesus said, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back” (Matt. 18:15, NLT). Accepting each other does not mean we are to ignore each other’s sin. You can accept others and still confront them.
Later Paul would tell Timothy, a young pastor, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2, NLT). Again, you can accept others without ignoring the sin. Simply because someone addresses a sin in your life doesn’t mean they are rejecting you, they may be accepting you… but just wanting to help you because they love you. Let me show you two more statements about confronting another who has sinned and still accepting them at the same time. God’s Word tells us how to do this.
- One statement is found in Galatians 6:1 which says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path” (NLT). When another believer is overcome by some sin… they are overcome by sexual immorality, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, drunkenness and some other sin (see Gal. 5:19-21) you are to accept them by gently and humbly helping them back onto the right path. When they are overcome by some sin is not a time for rejection, ridicule, and humiliation.
- Let me show you one more. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (NLT). Take a look at this word “lazy” (ataktos). It refers to anyone who did not perform his duty or follow through on his responsibility as a follower of Jesus. They would become apathetic toward their spiritual growth and using their spiritual gifting and resources for the kingdom of God. God’s Word says we are to “warn” (parakaleo) this person when they are being lazy about who they are in Christ and the purpose of God in their life. This word “warn” means to come alongside and carries the idea of providing help to someone get motivated, inspired, and corrected in their attitude of laziness.
The point is this. Accepting each other does not mean accepting them and ignoring everything in their life that may be harmful to them or others. Accepting them is loving them enough to welcome them in your life and confront them when necessary.
Accepting one another is based on how Christ accepted you
Number four, accepting one another is based on how Christ accepted you. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you” (NLT). God wants you to accept others in the deepest and fullest sense. You accept them with love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness… just as Christ has accepted you.
There are at least four characteristics of Christ accepting you.
Jesus accepted you with joy
First, Jesus accepted you with joy. Luke 15:3, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:3-7, NLT). We are to accept others just like Christ accepted us. When your friend, spouse, or child is lost in sin and is found or repents of their sin we are to rejoice over them.
Jesus accepted you in spite of your sin
Second, Jesus accepted you in spite of your sin. He loved you while you were rebellious. He loved you while you were disobedient. He loved you while you were ignoring Him. Romans 5:8 puts it this way, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). Acceptance.
1 Timothy 1:15 puts it this way, “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ – and I am the worst of them all” (NLT). Jesus accepted you in spite of your sin.
Jesus accepted you impartially
Third, Jesus accepted you impartially. There was no favoritism here. God didn’t say, “If you start acting like so and so I will accept you.”
Listen carefully to what Jesus said in John 6:37 to a crowd of people, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!” (NLT). Jesus is talking about salvation, but notice the word “anyone.” Impartial.
Then in Romans 2:11 we read, “For God does not show favoritism” (NLT). That’s being impartial. No favoritism. God accepted you, accepted me, and anyone who comes to Him.
Jesus accepted you to God’s glory
Fourth, Jesus accepted you to God’s glory. When you accept others in the name of Christ you are bringing glory to God. When Christ accepted you He was honoring and glorifying God, when you accept others in the same way you are honoring and glorifying God.
Listen to Ephesians 3:20, “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!” (v.20-21, Msg). God’s Spirit working within you is God’s demonstrating He accepts you and the result is glory! When you accept others like Christ accepted you, you bring glory to God.
Your first thought is not to reject people or ignore them, but to accept them. When Jesus accepted you… you didn’t have everything figured out, you didn’t understand a lot of things in the Bible, you didn’t know God’s will about a lot of things. As a matter of fact when Jesus accepted you, He received you and your sins. He received you and all the mess that comes with you. So, you are told to “accept each other just as Christ has accepted you.” This brings us to our last observation.
Accepting one another is for the purpose of glorifying God
Number five, accepting one another is for the purpose of glorifying God. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (NLT). When you follow the Lord’s example in receiving each other in love and without judgment or condescension, you give God glory. You bring honor to His name as one of His representatives. When you accept others you are demonstrating God’s acceptance of them. You accept others so that God will be given glory.
You may not feel accepted by some people. They have rejected you and ridiculed you and now you feel abandoned, isolated, discarded and banned in some way. God wants to accept you, He wants to receive you to Himself, He wants to adopt you into His family. You are wanted by Him. You are accepted by Him. When the service is over Ben and some others will be up front so you can talk to them today about this acceptance God offers.
You may completely understand God’s acceptance of you. You get it. You are thankful for His receiving you, but you are struggling with accepting a certain person or a certain people. And you are wanting to be accepting like Christ toward them, but because of what they have said or did or what they represent you find it hard to be loving and accepting toward them. We have some people up front who would be glad to talk to you about that and pray with you as well.
If you feel you would like to talk more about this later, you can still fill out the Welcome Card and someone will get a hold of you this week.