In order for us to connect or relate effectively with other people, we need to learn some important skills. These skills can help us as we connect with other people with our families at home, with co-workers in the workplace, and in small groups and serving teams at church.
1. The Art of Acceptance
Jesus had an amazing ability to accept people – all people, just as they were, ‘as is.’ He treated every person as if they were very important – even those despised by others in his culture, such as beggars, women, and children. He placed a #10 on everyone.
Don't be like the Pharisees who only accepted people who were like them. Everyone else they kept at a distance. Their attitude was ‘change and then you can come and hang with us’ while Jesus’ approach to all people was ‘come as you are and let my grace change you.’
The apostle Paul tells us to accept one another in the same way that Christ accepts us (Rom.15:7). How did Christ accept us? He loved us and died for us while we were still his enemies and living in a life of sin. He didn’t wait for us to get our act together before he reached out to us. We are to do the same for others.
The second great commandment is to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves.’ We all want to be accepted. Let’s do the same for others. Learn how to accept people as they are. Everyone wants to feel worthwhile. People want to feel important.
Of course, acceptance does not mean approval of someone's behaviour. Acceptance is not the same as tolerance. Jesus was a 'friend of sinners' without condoning their sin. It is an act of the heart that shows a person’s value and worth.
How do you approach people – with a smile or a frown, with a sense of acceptance or rejection? Be on guard so that you don’t become a stone-thrower with judgmental thoughts, a superior attitude, impatient words, bitter resentments, and little room for love. Let go of condemnation and judgment. Genuinely accept others ... just as they are.