"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." (Rom. 15:7)
I am grateful to God for constantly changing a worst person like me to be conformed into the likeness of Christ. I am glad to have Christ as my Lord who is patient enough to deal with my failings. One of the worst weaknesses of mine is to give up a person or dissolve from a relationship when I'm confronted with interpersonal conflicts. Not so long ago I was annoyed with a person whom I constantly sought to encourage and eventually resolved to give him up due to his lame excuses to evade responsibilities.
As I was reflecting on a passage in the book of Romans, I was led to a Scripture which captivated my attention and convicted my heart. The Lord clearly spoke to me from Romans 15:7, "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." In the first verse of the chapter it is written, "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." I could not move any further as my weakness became evident before me and I felt absolutely ashamed of my ungracious attitude.
It seemed as if the Lord was asking me, "Stephen, did I accept you because you are perfect in what you believe and strong without any weaknesses?" My obvious response was, "No." When Christ Jesus accepted me in spite of all my weaknesses, endures my constant failings and enables me to become better day-by-day, shouldn't I be gracious to others like Him? If I fail to be gracious toward others' weaknesses, am I not ungrateful to what Christ has done to me? If Christ had to treat me the same way I treat others would there be any hope for me?
Well, my heart was broken by His word, confessed my sin before God and committed myself to His grace to help others become better without giving them up. And about the person I thought to give up, I pursued to encourage him and am glad to see him progressively growing better. I am learning to accept others despite their weaknesses and differences (including minor differing beliefs) because this is what Christ has been doing to me. Of course there is a room for correction and discipline and these are done out of love and acceptance, not out of reaction and rejection.
I know this is quite difficult because of our most cherished egotism; however, he who is grateful to God for His grace will also be gracious to others. It was Selwyn Hughes who said, "God loves you and accepts you as you are even though it is not His intention that you stay as you are." True, Christ accepts us as we are and enables us to become like as He is. Should not His followers imitate their Master?