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Summary: To accept one another, we are to think of God’s judgment.

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Someone wrote, “Everyone has the fingerprint of God on his or her soul. God has created each person, knows him or her inside out. God has created each person and has plans and dreams for each one. God has created each person and so each one has incredible value. When we realize this, it changes how we see and treat each other. Accept one another. See them for who God has made them to be. There is a place for everyone in our church. God does not turn anyone away. He accepts all who come to him. How can we ever turn anyone away?”[1]

This morning, we will wrap up our series on “Accepting the Different” based on Romans 14:1-15:13. Allow me to summarize what we have studied so far using the acronym A-C-C-E-P-T.

First, we are to ACCEPT one another in Christ. Romans 15:7 command us, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” [2] To accept means “to receive wholeheartedly, to warmly welcome them to yourself, to grant admission into your heart, to look beyond anything superficial and to be willing and open to build relationships.” God accepting us in Christ is the basis for our accepting one another.

Romans 14:1 command us, “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Note that there are disputable or non-essential matters and there are essential matters of the faith. Thus, we are to CONCENTRATE on the essentials. Truth divides as well as unites. Unity is based on truth. We don’t unite at the expense of the truth.

But we also need to CONCEDE differences. There will be some gray areas or “disputable matters” that we will never agree upon on this side of heaven. These are matters that are not worth fighting over. But it is worth accepting one another.

Romans 14:19 tell us, “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”[3] Instead of wasting time debating about our differences, we must EXERT efforts to edify or build up one another.

Romans 14:13 command us: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” So, we PASS judgment on no one.

Not all judging is wrong. One of the verses of the Bible that is most often quoted out of context is Matthew 7:1. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” But Jesus is not prohibiting judgment per se. What He was commanding was premature judgment. Look at verses 4-5: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Before we judge others, we must first judge ourselves.

What is the judging that God prohibits? Now, note that “therefore” in verse 13: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” Why is that “therefore” there? This is a conclusion of a previous argument. Let us read Romans 14:9-12. “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

Note the words “judge” and “look down” in verse 10. The Amplified Bible goes like this: “Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother?” The fact that a person is different from you does not give you the license to criticize, look down or despise them. Being different is not necessarily sinful.

We are not to judge a person because of his appearance.[4] James 2:1-4 warns us, “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” We cannot base our acceptance of each other based on designer clothes. That means also that we are not to judge others based on their affluence or the size of their bank accounts. Someone noted that the rich tends to attract the rich and the poor tends to attract the poor. But the church of our Lord is composed of both the rich and the poor. Let the church be the church. We should not also base our acceptance on achievement like educational background for example. Colossians 3:11 tell us, “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Barbarians were those who were uneducated. Greeks were those who were educated. Our treatment of people must not vary depending on the number of letters before or after their name such as M.D. or Attorney. Note also the words “slave or free”. Here in Makati Gospel Church, we see employees and employers worshipping together. There should be no such distinction here in this church. At the foot of the cross, we are all equal.

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