What Does The Bible Say About Acceptance?
When you were growing up, being accepted by kids at school may have been a big deal to you. Perhaps you thought they accepted you, only to be pushed aside and rejected. What about God’s acceptance? Is he like those kids who pushed you aside when you didn’t measure up? Thankfully, God has a different view of what acceptance means. Here’s what the Bible says about acceptance by God and others.
Christian quotes about acceptance
“The shortest road to an understanding of the Bible is the acceptance of the fact that God is speaking in every line.” Donald Grey Barnhouse
“Grace frees us from having to earn God’s acceptance by meeting others’ expectations, and it also frees us from the unholy pride and prejudice of determining others’ acceptance by God on the basis of our own wisdom.” Bryan Chapell
“Our entire confidence in our acceptance before God is based solely upon the fact that Jesus was our legal representative in His sinless life and obedient death.” Jerry Bridges
God’s acceptance of us
To understand acceptance by God, you must understand what Scripture tells us.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2 NIV)
God, in his mercy, sent his Son, Jesus, to bridge the gap between God and us. Because Jesus took the punishment for sins that we deserved, we can have a relationship with God. As believers, we receive forgiveness of sins and Christ’s righteousness (righteous living.)
For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
In Christ, God’s acceptance of us is unconditional. He doesn’t look at our good works, appearance, or abilities. He looks at the motives of our hearts.
For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
..but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
Romans 15:7 (NIV) “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV) “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”
John 6:37 (NASB) “Everything that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I certainly will not cast out.”
John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.”
John 17:24 “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, that they may see the glory You gave Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Genesis 4:7 “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
Isaiah 41:8-9 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.”
Romans 8:34 “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
As Christians, we can trust in God’s many promises. Here are five wonderful promises God gives to those his followers.
1. He calls us his children
2. He’s with us
3. He will work life situations for our good
4. He will never leave us
5. He will supply all we need
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,(John 1:12 ESV)
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 ESV)
Accepting God’s will
God’s will for his followers is to grow and enjoy our relationship with him. We do this by reading his word and praying to know him and ourselves better. As Christians, God is at work, changing us from the inside out. This is called sanctification. As we grow closer to God, we begin to live our lives differently and think about things in a new way. The things we used to love doing lose their pleasure. We want to please God instead our ourselves.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)
We also grow in understanding God’s will for us. He leads and guides us as we seek him in prayer. You may be praying about a new job or a relationship. God is faithful to speak through his Word, other believers, or your circumstances to reveal his will to you. Spending time in prayer and reading his word can help you lean to wait for God to lead you.
Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
Psalms 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Psalms 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Matthew 6:10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Ephesians 5:17 (NASB) “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
When you feel rejected and unworthy
Even if you’re a Christian, you may occasionally struggle with feeling unworthy or rejected. Life is challenging. There are daily difficulties that can leave you feeling weary of life. It’s important to listen to what God says about you rather than listen to your thoughts. Reading what God says about you helps you fight the temptation to feel unworthy or rejected.
- You are valued by God.-Are, not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7 ESV)
- You are a new creation in Christ-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
- God is for you-What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 ESV)
- You are chosen by God-But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
- God doesn’t condemn his followers-For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20 ESV)
Psalm 34:17-20 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”
Psalm 27:10 (NLT) “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”
Psalm 16:5 “LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.”
Psalm 94:14 “For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage.”
1 Peter 2:4 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.”
Psalm 118:6 “The LORD is on my side; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”
Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
1 Corinthians 6:20 “for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
What does the Bible say about being accepting of others?
Being part of a church doesn’t mean you will never struggle to accept others. The church is made up of sinners saved by grace. Someone will likely sin against you. Perhaps you’ll be asked to serve in the children’s church for the thousandth time. Or someone will say something thoughtless or rude. Getting bitter or angry or even leaving the church will be tempting.
Part of being a Christian is knowing how to deal with your heart when sinned against. It doesn’t mean you don’t stand up for yourself when it’s appropriate. Maybe you need to say “no” when asked to serve once again in the children’s church. Or you may need to tell that rude person what they said was hurtful. Relationships are messy, and part of being in a church is learning to accept others.
When you’re tempted to get angry at others or judge them, It’s helpful to remind yourself that you make mistakes, too. Good chance whatever others do, you’ve done, too.
Scripture is clear in how to live with others.
- Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7 NIV)
- Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all, these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)
- We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21 ESV)
Of course, it’s never appropriate to allow someone to sin against you in an abusive way. Physical or verbal abuse isn’t condoned in Scripture. These situations need to be dealt with through law enforcement. If you’ve experienced abuse, get help right away.
Romans 15:7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Colossians 3:13 “Bear with one another and forgive any complaint you may have against someone else. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Romans 14:1 “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on his opinions.”
Leviticus 19:33-34 “Do not mistreat foreigners who are living in your land. Treat them as you would an Israelite, and love them as you love yourselves. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Luke 3:11 “John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Romans 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Accepting situations and seasons that we are in
Life has its ups and downs. There are seasons when everything is going great, but other times when life feels like one big trial after another. Life can feel out of control when you’re in the midst of a trial. It’s good to remember that when life is chaotic, God is still there for you. It helps you accept the situation to know he cares and controls all your situations and seasons.
- Cry out to him for help-and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. (Psalm 50:15 ESV)
- He promises to be your strength-God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46: 1-3 ESV)
- Pray and thank God –do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ( Phillipains 4:6-7 ESV)
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Psalm 29:10-11 “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. 11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
Psalm 31:15-16 “My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly. 16 Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Psalm 6:9 “The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV) “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Psalm 69:13 “But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.”
Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Relying on God
We can rely on God because he’s proven he cares for us by sending his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. Besides this, we can trust God because of his character. God’s character means the essence of who he is. Scripture tells us that God is loving, merciful, and forgiving. Other characteristics of God include:
- Omnipotent-unlimited power
- Omniscient- knows all things
- Transcendent-Above human physical experience
We rely on God by spending time reading Scripture, praying, and having fellowship with other believers. Creating a daily habit of spending time with the Lord will help you grow close to God and learn to rely on him.
O Lord, in the morning, you hear my voice; in the morning, I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.( Psalm 5:3 ESV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 ESV)
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8)
“In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” (Psalm 5:3)
“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalm 37:5)
Examples of acceptance in the Bible
In the letter to the Colossians, Paul encourages the follower of Christ to accept and be patient with each other. He writes,
Put on then, as Christ’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another….(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)
One of the best examples of acceptance in the Bible is how Jesus viewed women. In the first century, women were regarded as less than second-class citizens. They were often treated poorly. We read in Scripture how Jesus broke this tradition by relating to women. Examples include
- Publically talking to a woman- Just then, his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” (John 4:27 ESV)
- Jesus spoke with a woman caught in adultery-Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]] (John 8:10-11 ESV)
- Jesus spoke to a widow- As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” (Luke 7:12-13 ESV)
There are many more examples of how Jesus broke through social barriers accepting outcasts and sinners with mercy and healing.
Job 2:10 (ESV) 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
God’s acceptance of us doesn’t depend on how we look or what we do. His acceptance is based on what Jesus did for us on the cross when he died in our place for sin. As Christians, we can rest assured that God’s acceptance means we’re loved unconditionally.