Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Romans 15:7
One of the most awkward things about childhood is to endure a schoolyard pick when people are forming teams. If you're short, these occasions are dreadful because you see all the other kids who are taller go right before you. No one likes to be the last one picked because it is embarrassing. Or even worse is to not be picked at all and have to sit out the game. For me growing up, it was always painful to feel like I was unaccepted. We are often marked by experiences where we were made to feel unwelcome and unwanted.
God knew just how hard we would take being pushed out by other people. That is probably why as Paul is wrapping up his letter to the church in Rome, he was inspired to write this verse about acceptance. The church in Rome struggled with accepting one another. They were filled with both Jewish and Gentile believers who had a hard time overcoming their cultural divide. They didn't get along, and in fact, they were making the other group feel unwelcomed. Paul cut through their differences and called them to accept one another just as Christ welcomed them into His family. When we accept those who are different from us, we glorify God. It is our way of saying thank you to God and showing that He alone is the source of our hope.
This isn't always easy because people can often be hard to accept. You may have a neighbor who keeps you up all night with a barking dog. It could be that your coworker is weird and wears so much cologne or perfume that it makes it hard to be in the same room. You might see the same annoying couple in Starbucks that talk so loud that you can't stay focused on doing your work. We have to push through all of our past hurts or pain to embrace a posture of acceptance. Remember, acceptance opens the door to influence. If we make people feel unwelcome or unwanted, we might miss the opportunity to share about Jesus.
Who in your life right now are you having trouble accepting? Is there a person that comes to mind quickly? Take some time to write out that person or people group that you are having a hard time accepting, and pray for God to soften your heart. Ask God to see them from His perspective and to stretch you to love them unconditionally. Then put some effort into actually taking the time to get to know them. Instead of being judgmental or closed off, reach out in love.
Read Romans 15:1-13 (NLT)
We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.” Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:
“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing praises to your name.”
And in another place it is written,
“Rejoice with his people,
And yet again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.”
And in another place Isaiah said,
“The heir to David’s throne will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.