Have you ever found yourself asking a question like: why should I accept those that are different than I? They see things differently, interpret things differently, look differently, have different backgrounds, worship differently, dress differently and to be honest—it is awkward and uncomfortable to be around them or to accept them. It is much easier for me to be around others, be kind to others, be loving to others, and accept others who are just like I am.
Many times “grey area” differences cause unnecessary and unbiblical separation. The differences many times lead to distain, distancing and even demonizing one another. Now remember, I am not referring to doctrine but rather to “grey area issues.” There is no doubt the Bible is very clear on many areas and issues. But why should I accept those who are different than I am on areas that are not so clear? Please allow me to give you five reasons.
God has given room for differences. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs,” Romans 14:1-2. We must remember that if God had wanted us to all be alike, He would have and could have cleared it all up from the beginning by creating us all exactly alike and dictating everything we should and should not do right down to the minute detail—right? Of course He could have! He is God. So, if God did not do that for us, why do we try to do that for everyone else?
God has already received him. “Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us,” Romans 15:7. We are never going to see eye to eye with everyone, and we are never going to agree with everyone—I do not even agree with myself some of the time! So often I will hear someone say, “Well, I’m not Christ”, but please read Romans 15:7 again.
Judging is not my responsibility “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth,” Romans 14:4. Here are two great facts that will help us.
Fact 1: Only God has the right to judge.
Fact 2: I am not God, you are not God.
When we judge someone we must remember that we do not know their motives. Just because someone sings better than everyone else, does not mean that they did not sing from their heart or that they are just trying to show off, or that they are doing it for the applause of men—how do you know? Typically we have no idea what that person is going through or what that person has been through.
I don’t fully realize what is in their heart “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks,” Romans 14:6. Those “tongue-in-cheek” comments that are criticizing another brother in the Lord are utterly unacceptable. We just simply do not know what their motives are or what is really going on in their heart. Have you ever been surprised when someone you loved and looked up to messed up? Yes, me too! Things are not always how we perceive them to be, aren’t they?
I must give a reckoning of my own life“Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” Romans 14:10 “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God,” Romans 14:12. We will all give an eye ball to eye ball, toe to toe account for our ministries and for our lives. Let’s focus our attention to our lives and personal spiritual development.
A few years ago, I walked out on my deck on a beautiful fall day in Baltimore and noticed something next door. My neighbors back yard was trashed! Man this bothered me. I was having all of those thoughts and questions run through my mind. What is wrong with these people? Why wont they just clean it up? Why do they have all this trash in their back yard? As I walked down the steps of my deck it was almost like God punched me in the mouth. I looked, noticed and then remembered that a month ago we remodeled our bathroom and had to put all the drywall, old cabinets and old tile under my deck but still visible to everyone. I was reminded that I needed to stop worry about everyone else’s back yard, when I had enough junk in my own.