A Prayer for Growing a Heart of Acceptance
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Rom. 15:7
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s both settling and centering to begin this day with the assurance of your acceptance. You know everything about me, and still I’m fully and eternally accepted by you. You know my failures, fickleness, foolishness, faithlessness; and yet you totally accept me. When I confess my sins, I don’t inform you of anything you don’t already know. In fact, I’m probably aware of only 3 or 4 percent of my actual sins. It’s absolutely overwhelming to be this known and this accepted by you.
Indeed, I’m the self-unrighteousness younger brother you welcomed home and the self-righteous elder brother you constantly pursue. I’m the one lying at your feet others would stone, and the one who can take up stones as quickly as anyone to hurl at others, yet you are gracious and kind with me.
I’ve been up in the tree with Zacheus and down in the depths with Peter, and you have accepted and embraced me. I’ve been filled with the self-pity of Jonah and the angry laments of Jeremiah, the deceitfulness of Jacob and the doubts of Thomas, the fears of Timothy and the self-interest of Diotrephes (3 Jn. 1:9), and you’ve done nothing but understand, and give me grace upon grace.
But here‘s the difficult part—the redemptive kicker, Lord Jesus. As you’ve accepted me, you’re calling me to accept others. I’ll need all the grace you promise to love like that; for there are a lot of my brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I disagree about many things, including finer points of theology and emotion-laden issues of politics; the extent of Christian liberty and the specifics of worship liturgy; where to send kids to school and what to do on a Sunday afternoon, and that’s just for starters.
Lord Jesus, I need a bigger gospel heart and more gospel wisdom if I’m going to make headway in this calling. Please help me show kindness without compromising my convictions. Please teach me the difference between essential and nonessential matters. Please show me the difference between acceptance and acquiescence in the face of real differences. Please free me from the limitations of my perspective, the prejudices of my heritage, and the insecurities of my comfort zone. Please free me from insincere niceness and an obsession with “rightness.”
Lord Jesus, let me remember that your promise to bring to completion the good work you began in me, also applies to each of your children. Burn the conviction indelibly into my heart: it brings you praise when I work hard at accepting others as you accept me. So very Amen I pray, in your matchless and merciful name.