In the American culture, we often look to be accepted, and this acceptance determines our worth in our own minds, which we then project onto others. We look for acceptance from our families, peers and friends, bosses and co-workers, those we are attracted to or want to be attracted to us. We are letting others know what we feel our value is whether we are meaning to or not. More often than not, we have not accurately determined our own value. You may have heard it said, “The way people treat you is a reflection of them, not you.” This can be a true and comforting statement, but what does God say about how others treat us, how we treat them, and acceptance?
Other’s Treatment of Us
Are you a child of God? How would you feel if someone treated your child poorly? Not only does God not like it when we are treated poorly, but it breaks His heart. We are warned in His Word of those who are going to treat us poorly, especially because we belong to Him. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so never should we accept the abuse we are receiving as we sometimes must endure it. We must also never convince ourselves that the abuse that we receive is deserved or somehow okay. Christ took on the punishment for every single one of our sins. We will have consequences, but abuse is not a consequence, abuse is just evil.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its over. And from such people turn away!”
2 Timothy 3:1-5
Did you catch the last sentence in this one?! It says to avoid these kind of people! We do not have to keep returning to abusive people, feeling like it is loving of us or that their acceptance is worth it. Most of the time, their acceptance will never arrive.
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
1 John 4:8
“‘And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.'”
We have to know that we will endure hard times at the hands of others, especially as we get closer to God. We cannot remain naive, confused, or surprised by this. If we do not prepare ourselves, we will quickly run back to our old, ugly ways in order to feel accepted again. Acceptance is a security blanket, it is false, though, there is not true security in acceptance because it can be taken away as swiftly as it was given. I feel that I am caught off guard the most when trials are caused by those I thought (and maybe even do) love me or by other Christians. It’s as if the rug gets pulled from under our feet when the mistreatment comes from someone who we should be safe around.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
We must not only be on the lookout for outright abusers, but also those who manipulate in any way, those who give us the feeling of acceptance in order to gain something from us.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
1 Peter 5:8-10
Just as we each have to choose whether or not we will accept God’s gift of salvation to us, we must also take it a step further and accept His gift of wanting to use our lives, struggle, pain and all for His glory. Either way, He ultimately can, but there is a greater relationship gained if we are a part of it. Otherwise, the bad will still happen, but we will only reap bitterness and pain from it.
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant if for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
And never ever forget that we are not only enduring some physical, mental, and emotional pain, but the battle is not won if we stop enduring once those who treat us evil are out of our lives or no longer are treating us poorly.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
I understand that not all people who don’t accept us are being abusive, but to some extent, we are abusing ourselves by chasing things that cannot fulfill the longing we believe acceptance may bring. We are looking to others to fulfill the hole that only God can truly fill. You may have heard that many times before, but don’t know how to completely get there without falling backwards. Trust me, we all have setbacks, but the more firm our faith is in Christ, the more quickly we are able to acknowledge and correct our hearts.
Our Treatment of Others
Alright, so what does real love look like? So often we are missing the mark, and either enabling, not forgiving, or a mixture of both. The way we treat others is definitely a direct reflection of where are hearts are. It is not loving to enable or accept someones bad behavior. It is also not loving to reject them completely, instead of trying to gently restore or forgiving and welcoming back once they have shown true repentance.
“‘Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.'”
Just because we are not to judge, does not at all mean that we are not to have discernment and godly wisdom.
“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.”
1 Corinthians 5:11
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to dispute over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”
“‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hat you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.'”
If people accept us, what does it cost us? What might we be giving up or sacrificing? I can choose to accept someone simply because I like their hair, their taste in music, their sense of humor, etc. Does that mean that I love these people? Not necessarily. It is an indication about whether or not I basically find that person to have tastes that I approve of. I can respect someone for their taste, and still have different taste myself. I can love someone in every way that God calls me to, and not accept one thing about their life. God doesn’t call me to accept the sin, but He calls me to love the sinner. In the end, what is my opinion worth? Really, nothing. My acceptance or rejection of another person does not assign worth to them. They have worth no matter what because God has given it to them. The choice is for each of us to accept our worth from God, and not each other. Easier said than done.
“‘He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.'”
“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ when Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'”
“For there is no partiality with God.”
“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”
If you need encouragement or help working through your situations in love rather than accepting sin please comment below, shoot me an email, or reach out via social media.
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