Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

Acceptance means allowing others to be themselves. You don’t have to like them or agree with them. All you have to do is not force them to live up to your idea of how they are supposed to be. Chicago sales consultant Jean Cuzak tells people she makes a good impression for a living. She says, “The best way I have found for impressing people is to let them know that I am impressed by them.” This behavior pays off. Studies show that supervisors who are interested in the people working for them get more performance than the ones who are self-absorbed.

 Paul Tournier was a brilliant thinker and writer, and an influential Christian therapist during his time. Doctors from around the world traveled to his home in Switzerland to learn from him. He wrote, “It is a little embarrassing for students to come over and study my ‘techniques’. They always go away disappointed, because all I do is accept people.” Accepting is not the same as approving, condoning, or even tolerating bad behavior. Acceptance is an act of the heart in which I recognize that, despite someone’s behavior, he or she has value in God’s sight, and I honor that.

There are many ways to communicate acceptance to people. One of them is to listen to them with patience and compassion and receive them with love in the name of Jesus. Another is to refrain from mental condemnation and judgments. My mind is constantly evaluating and analyzing. I’ve come to realize that it sets me up as the Holy Spirit in places where I have no business. It keeps me from loving. I am learning (over and over!) to submit my mind to God and draw near to Him. I ask Him to love through me. After all, Jesus’ mind was way more intelligent than mine, and yet people felt love and acceptance from Him in a way that drew them to God. I want that!

*What keeps you from showing acceptance to people?

*What are the things people say or do that communicate acceptance to you?

*Who comes to mind that may need that from you?

Jesus, You modeled acceptance. Sinners loved you and ran to You. Even now, You love and accept me, although I fail in many ways. Give me Your Spirit of love and kindness. Help me to look and listen with patience and compassion to what people say—even to what they don’t say. Teach me to love. Amen.

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