“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Paul in Romans 15:7
Family members accept one another. We do so by allowing each family member into our heart with the intent of showing them kindness. That sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Perhaps if we add a few words–family members accept one another graciously, completely and unconditionally. Still, seems kind of obvious…but what if we really did accept one another as Christ accepted us? Think about it with me for one moment. Christ accepts us while we are still helpless (Romans 5:6). He accepts us in spite of our weaknesses and those things we cannot help. In family life, we accept one another in spite of areas of weakness. For instance, we accept our children even when they act like immature kids in the wrong place and at the wrong time; after all, they are helpless in acting like children because they are children. So, even when our children behave in some inappropriate way that gets on our nerves, we allow them into our hearts with the intent of showing them kindness…we accept them. When our spouses get on our nerves because they act like men or think like women, we accept them into our hearts with the intent of showing them kindness…we accept them.
We can go a step further in accepting one another as Christ accepts us. Jesus even accepts people who sinners (Romans 5:8). In fact, He seemed to seek out those who had “missed the mark” when He came to earth. He came to “heal the sick, not the healthy” and “to seek and to save those who were lost.” He knew that those who “missed the mark” had a deep need to feel connected and accepted. Such people need to be taken by the hand, given access into our heart, and shown kindness. Only from the basis of a loving and accepting relationship could Jesus show them how to live the abundant life. Families building a heritage of grace follow Christ’s example. Like Christ, we allow family members into our hearts with the intent of showing kindness to them even when they do something wrong. Don’t get me wrong–we still discipline. We do not accept misbehavior or inappropriate behavior. We simply accept people. In the midst of any disciplinary action, our family members need to know that we still accept them and love them, in spite of the misbehavior. When our spouse is wrong about something and we end up arguing, we need to assure them that we still accept them in spite of any difference of opinion. We still love and respect them (accept them), even in the midst of the argument. Offer words of acceptance in the midst of any disagreement or argument. Do not get so carried away with emotions that you forget to communicate complete acceptance of family members in the midst of any disagreement, argument, or discipline. Remember, they have a place in your heart from which you intend to show them kindness, even when they miss the mark.
Christ went even further in accepting us. He accepted us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10). He accepted those who He knew would deny Him and those who would betray Him. He accepted and even served Peter (who later denied Him) and Judas (who betrayed Him) when He washed their feet at the last supper (John 13). He opened His heart to them and showed them kindness even though He knew that they would deny and betray Him before the evening came to an end! To graciously accept family members, we open our hearts to them with the intent of showing kindness even though they may betray us. Even if our children defame the family name… a parent loses control and calls a child terrible names… or a family member leaves the family in anger, in effect abandoning them in need…even then, we work to graciously accept our family members. Once again, I do not mean that wrong behavior goes unaddressed. We still address inappropriate, hurtful behavior. However, amidst all of this, each family member needs to have a keen awareness that they have access to one another’s heart and that the intent of kindness still exists. They need to have a sense of complete and gracious acceptance.
This is no easy task. No, unconditionally acceptance is not easy but well worth the challenge. To give our family total and complete acceptance like Christ gave to us is no less than an act of grace. Will you show this gracious acceptance to your family members?