Accept One Another 5

James 4:11-12

I have to admit I have a bit of a lead foot when it comes to driving. There are certain roads that I drive – flat and smooth and open – where it just pains me to actually go the speed limit. And so, there are times when I have thought the law to be a bit foolish, unnecessarily strict. But who am I to judge the law? Who am I to decide which law should be obeyed and which law can be ignored?

Such an approach is not new. Even in the times of Christ there were those who thought they could determine what should be obeyed and what could be ignored. In this letter from James (believed to be the brother of Jesus), what warning is given? What do we judge when we judge our brother? Who is the one Judge and Lawgiver?

Exceeding the speed limit when there is no one around to be affected is still against the law. Slipping through a stop sign when it is late at night and there is no one around is also against the law. It may seem foolish to obey such laws when we consider ourselves intelligent enough to realize they aren’t necessary in certain circumstances, but the law is the law.

The same is true of our attitudes toward one another. We are reminded not to slander one another. We are told not to judge one another. But still we do. We examine others and choose to have them part of our family of faith or to exclude them.

And when we do that we are passing our own judgment on the law of God. Jesus has taught us to accept one another, to be part of the forgiveness we all need. Jesus has taught us not to judge one another. And when we do we are deciding in our own hearts that the teachings and instructions of Christ do not apply to us.

Who are you to judge your neighbor? Jesus is the only one to offer judgment. Christ is the one who is the Lawgiver. And the law of Christ is that we accept one another.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you avoid judging others?

Accept One Another 4

Romans 16:17-19

Almost every child has had to deal with a bully at school or in the neighborhood. Or perhaps we have had to deal with others whom we find unpleasant. The simplest solution, of course, is to just avoid the people with whom you have problems.

This simple approach is also supported by Paul in his letter to Rome. What warning does he offer? How does he suggest dealing with these people? What motivates these people? What does Paul desire?

As we examine the call for each of us to accept one another, we must also look at those individuals who are part of our faith family who refuse to accept one another. It is very common in almost every church family or faith group to have a few individuals who just do not comprehend the teachings of Christ. These persons are unable for some reason or another to accept what the Bible teaches.

Instead, they are caught up in their own desires and their own motivations. Who among us has not encountered at least one member of our faith family who served their own appetites rather than the Lord?

In Romans 14:13 Paul refers to our judgmental attitudes as causing stumbling blocks and obstacles for others in the faith. Here he also uses the term “obstacles” when talking about those who cause division and unrest.

Those people who will serve themselves rather than God, who will cause division in a family of faith, who will throw out obstacles and stumbling blocks for others are the kind of people who will not be accepting of other people and other ideas.

The solution is to avoid these individuals. Do not allow yourself to be caught up in their deceits or their false and erroneous ways of thinking.

As true followers of Christ we are to be accepting of one another, welcoming other ideas and embracing people different from ourselves. We are not to be part of a group who will deceive the minds of others or cause division in the family of faith.

As Paul encourages, we should be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be wise about what is good?

Accept One Another 3

Romans 15:5-7

Many years ago I was responsible for the church’s Christmas dinner. I knew it would take some time to set everything up – tables, silverware, napkins for about 150 people – but I had two helpers with me. To have sufficient room for everyone the settings needed to be placed a certain way and the tables needed to be angled.

I worked the length of one side, then up the middle of the room, and down the other side. When I came to the end I saw that I had missed several places and went back to fix them. Then I saw more places that were not the way they should have been. That was when I realized my helpers were undoing what I had done.

To get the job done we had to all do the same work, not work against one another. Such an attitude is needed in our faith as well. Just as it would have been impossible to make the dinner preparations right with all of us working at odds to one another, it is difficult to honor the Lord and do God’s will when we are all working against one another in our faith.

Again we look to Paul’s letter to the Romans. What does he pray for? What is the result of unity in heart and mouth? How can we achieve that unity?

If we are all Christians under one Lord, then we need to accept one another as Christians under our one Lord. God is able to give us a sense of encouragement in what we do. He is able to give us the endurance we need to work against the hardships and challenges of life and temptation.

We need to realize that God is also able to give us a spirit of unity too. But that spirit of unity can be hindered and dampened if we cannot learn to accept one another. And that acceptance begins within us.

Christ can be glorified and praised if we can all learn to work together in our journey of faith. But to achieve this unity we must refrain from judgment and adopt an attitude of humility and peace.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Where does your family of faith need unity? What can you do to help achieve that?

Accept One Another 2

Ephesians 4:1-3

Several years ago I heard a great Christian speaker, Marva Dawn, relate her response to people who complain to her about worship. She said that when someone speaks to her after a worship service and says, “I didn’t like that song,” she says, “So what? It isn’t about you.”

It isn’t just the music that some people complain about. There are those who don’t like the overall worship style, or the d├ęcor, or the decisions being made by the church in general. And there are plenty of people who would really love church if they could just get rid of all the people they don’t like.

So what? It isn’t about them.

Look at the example Paul gives for being a Christian. How does he refer to himself? What attitude does he recommend for us to have? What are we to do?

If it isn’t about us, then what is it about? While it is true that part of our life of faith is our own salvation and our own relationship with God, we must have an attitude of inclusiveness. Our faith journey is not just our own but the journey of others like us. We are all seeking that right and holy connection with our Lord.

It is also all about God. Our faith life should be about worshiping God and about working to serve His kingdom.

But how can all of us make that connection when a few members of the family of faith want everything to fit their own style? It seems that every church or religious group has a collection of those who want to dictate how things are going to be. They sit in judgment of others and their behavior. They may exclude those who are even a little different than themselves.

But this is not the attitude of a Christian. This is not modeling the life of Christ.

Instead we should see ourselves as Paul does, as prisoners for the Lord. Such an attitude will make us humble and more tolerant of others. If we can approach our faith with humility, gentleness, patience and love we can make greater strides in serving our God and helping others along the path to redemption.

We must learn to accept one another, fostering the bonds of peace. And that bond of peace that promotes unity in the body of Christ begins with us. It comes about when we can rid ourselves of judgment, arrogance, selfishness and intolerance.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Examine your faith. Is it all about you, or is it all about God and others?

Accept One Another 1

Romans 14:10-13

Each of us who believe in Jesus and work to be like him, those who call themselves Christians, must work to live in peace with one another. We must learn to interact with each other as Christian brothers and sisters under the guidance of our Lord and Father. If we are to be true Christians under Jesus then we must learn what it means to be together in the love of Christ. And so, we begin looking at how to live as a Christian family.

The Bible has much to say and much guidance in how to live and love as Christians. So we begin this series on “One Another,” looking at how to accept one another, have fellowship with one another, teach one another, forgive one another and love one another.

We begin in Romans, that letter from Paul to a struggling church confronted with adversity. Like these early Christians we may also feel that our life and faith are being challenged. In this passage Paul gives advice on how to begin to accept one another, how to start that foundation of faith.

What problem is being addressed? What does Paul remind us about our relationship with God? What should we do?

If we intend to live as Christians we must first be humble. We must learn to get along with others who are of the same faith before we can even begin to get along with others who may not be aware of God.

While our efforts and attitudes may be those that work to remove sin from our own lives and sin from the world, we cannot approach our faith with arrogance and conceit. Which one of us is worthy to stand before God? Not one. We are all sinners who have missed the mark of perfection.

So how can it be that we judge one another? How can we look at others and claim they are not good enough to be in our company? Such attitudes do not work to remove sin or improve the spirituality of ourselves or any other. Instead they become obstacles, roadblocks, things that deter rather than invite.

We are called to have an attitude of openness and love. We may hate the sin, but we must love the sinner because we are all sinners. We must develop an attitude of humility and acceptance, holding back on our judgments and working to remove our own inflated sense of self-worth.

In Matthew 20:26-27 Jesus explains, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” If we will serve the Lord and be true Christians we will learn to accept one another and serve one another.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Is there anyone you look down on? What can you do to remove that attitude?