Barriers To Acceptance

October 27, 2015
by Martin Wiles

Romans 14:1 – Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. (NLT)

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. For example, growing up, I was taught that Sunday was a sacred day. The most that 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 their 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.

In today's Scripture, Paul is specifically referring to acceptance among believers. The plethora of denominations is a witness that believers don't agree on a number of things. Divisions within denominations show that there is even disagreement among likeminded believers. Acceptance was even a problem in the first century church. Was it acceptable to eat meat that had been used in pagan rituals?

I should accept all people because they are God's creations. They are made in His image, loved by Him, and have the potential to be used by Him. Accepting them, however, doesn't mean that I have to accept their beliefs or copy their actions. Acceptance is not approval.

When I allow pride into my life, I'll reject others instead of accepting them, thinking that 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 take me to this level. Maybe the person who went to the store on Sunday wasn't a bad person after all. Perhaps they had a better understanding of spiritual freedom than I did. Misunderstanding God's love can lead me to avoid others rather than to accept them. God loves all; He doesn't accept all their actions.

I can accept others without accepting their opinions or lifestyles. What barrier do you need to tear down so that you can accept others as God does?

Prayer: Father, help us to see others as You do and love them as You do. Amen.

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Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Martin, so very appropriate for me today. Thank you.
    (ON Canada)

    Good points! May we extend the love of Christ to those whose life choices we cannot approve of … just as Jesus did. Blessings.

    Hi Martin:
    Well said!!
    God bless you.

    Thanks, Martin Wiles for “Father, help us to see others as You do and love them as You do. Amen.”
    Keep writing.

    Well stated Martin,
    This is a struggling issue that needs to be heard.
    Thanks for writing.
    God continue to bless you and your ministry.

    Good lesson Martin. It reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s advice to “become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9: 19-23). Accepting others is a great way to practice humility, and at the same time, be better witnesses for Christ.

    Hello Martin, what you said is so true. Sometimes I find myself being so judgemental and when I realize it, I try to stop myself from going down this road! Everyone has the right to their own opinions and their own beliefs and accepting them is the right thing to do but, like you said we don’t have to “approve” of them!

    Hi Martin,
    Your devotional reminds me of the expression “Love the sinner, but not the sin”. That is what I believe. First off, we must realize that we are all sinners.
    If we never learn to love the sinner how can we possibly expect them to want to embrace our faith and Jesus. We have to realize that Jesus taught us that they are the very people who need us.
    Jesus taught forgiveness so we must be forgiving. That does not mean that we accept what someone did but we can learn to accept and love the person. The act should not define the person for the lifetime.

    There’s acceptance — and then there’s acceptance.
    I accept all into our congregations because they, like me, are children of God, here to be loved.
    But I cannot accept all into our pulpits and teaching positions in the church from which point of vantage they may espouse ways of life which are abominations to God.
    One of the things we’re facing now in Canada is, how do we accept practicing gays into our congregations and love them without condoning their way of life? I don’t know the answer. I just feel this issue is going to split our denomination apart no matter who prevails. There are going to be no winners in this fight.
    (ON Canada)

    You’ve got me thinking, Martin!
    Rom. 14 creates a challenge to me. Who is my weaker brother? In the past I’ve refused (for example) a glass of wine thinking that it might “tempt” an abstaining brother or sister (who was present) to judge me as an inferior, worldly Christian. This abstainer was not necessarily a “weaker brother” – on the contrary, a seasoned believer. I was acting out of a selfish desire for their approval.
    True, this abstainer may have been a “weaker brother”, weak in faith but strong in legalistic righteousness. But I think Paul implies the “weaker brother” to be a new convert, whose conscience is not yet conformed to the
    law of the Spirit. This person is still learning to distinguish legitimate requirements of God from negotiable traditions, especially traditions closely associated with their past life (ex paganism or Judaism). This person’s conscious could be harmed by my insensitive actions.
    This is really an issue of love – considering how our worship practices affect the OTHER person. I think of worship music today: We may insist on certain styles because this feels right to us. But in actuality, we may be harming their conscience – through encouraging associations with the very life they have departed from in order to follow Christ (be that worldliness, religiosity, or whatever).
    So it’s more about the motive for my own behaviours rather than the behaviours in themselves.
    “So then, each of us will give an account of [OURSELVES] to God… and everything that does not come from faith is sin” . Rom 14: 11, 23

    Amen, brother Martin. Your message needed to be said and heard.

    Amen to your prayer.

    Very timely topic Martin with the looming spectre of thousands of refugees possibly arriving in our country where there is already high unemployment and fear of Islam which is the main faith of most of the refugees.
    I have been using the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible Study I teach to explore our attitudes as well as our actions as believers in Jesus Christ. Much discussion, many suggestions. As for personally following the Lord’s command to Love thy neighbour as thyself.

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