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Acceptance and growth
- Jacob Ninan
A sense of rejection is one of the most powerful factors that hinder personal, social and spiritual growth. We crave for acceptance. But since most people offer only a performance based acceptance, our self esteem remains very unsteady as long as we lean on that. Those who suffer from severe rejection resort to all types of psychological escape routes to try and preserve their self esteem. They dare not look at any fault or lack in themselves for fear that it might lead to a crash of their self esteem. They justify themselves, fix the blame on others, pull down others in order to look better in comparison, divert attention, etc., in order to avoid having to look at their faults. But the question is how we can grow if we cannot first see a need for growth, and how we can see our need unless we face up to our lacks or faults.
To the backsliding people of Israel, God's instruction was, "Only acknowledge your sin" (Je.3:13). That was to be the starting point for their recovery. To encourage them to do that, God kept telling them about how He really loved them and what all He wanted to do for them. He knew that only if they were convinced that they were 'safe' in His love they would open up to Him. That is what we can bank on - His mercy, forgiveness and acceptance - when we go to Him.
God's acceptance is unique, because He is infinitely God! There is no one else who is infinite in mercy, kindness, compassion, patience and love, and who can accept us just as we are (Is.1:18). God will be unflinching in His acceptance even when He sees us fail, even though He does not accept our sin or say that it is fine. We human beings find it difficult to love the sinner while hating his sin. God has to give us His grace to do that. But for Him it is automatic because that is His nature!
God's acceptance of us is unconditional (Je.31:3;He.13:5). The sacrifice of His Son takes full care of our sins, so that this acceptance does not get shaken by our sins (Ep.1:5,6;1Jn.2:2). It is not that we can therefore take sin lightly (Ro.6:15). But the more we experience true grace the less we want to sin. Logic cannot fully explain how this can be, but still this is one of the glorious truths that we can enjoy by faith.
When we go to God after we have fallen, we wonder how He could love us when we know our sin has grieved Him. But God does that. The best of people will disappoint us because they will find it difficult to accept us if they know we have sinned. Therefore we prefer to wear a mask and pretend that we are good. But with God we can be open and still be certain about His acceptance. This is something we receive by faith, and then we become more convinced about it through experience. The more we get to know this, the more free we are to acknowledge all our sins and needs before Him, to get forgiveness and cleansing. In this process we become closer to Him, trust Him more, and also sin less and less. That is growth.