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The Practical Christian Life

Jacob Ninan

Chapter 19

Accepting ourselves and others

We have seen a little in the last chapter about accepting ourselves as we are. We have this tendency to compare ourselves with others which is a most foolish thing to do (2Cor.10:12). Then we tend to focus on the things we see in others that we lack, and we conclude that we are not acceptable! We also look at others and notice some things in them that irritate us and then we find it difficult to accept those people with those defects! But it is necessary for us in order to have a healthy development that we learn to accept ourselves as we are and also accept others as they are.

We can see a great secret of acceptance from this verse, “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God” (Rom.15:7). How has Christ accepted us? Not after we became perfect or corrected at least our gross areas of sinfulness. No. He accepted us just as we were, with all the baggage of our sinful past, our present sinful tendencies, our personality quirks, mannerisms, irritable behaviour, ignorance, lack of culture/civilisation, etc. Just imagine how such things should have normally irritated a holy and perfect God! But He accepted us in our existing state of life.

He agrees not to recollect our past sins which He has graciously forgiven us or to hold them against us anymore (Heb.8:12). But He is not oblivious at all to our present condition. He is working in us to slowly transform us into the likeness of His Son. So He is not agitated by the things He sees in us. He has accepted us as we are.

We can also accept ourselves if we look at ourselves in a similar way. Our past sins have been completely wiped clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. But we are painfully aware of many shortcomings in us right now, some of which are also known to other people. We also see many areas in our life where other people outshine us and we feel very small in comparison. Even though we would like to see all our imperfections vanish instantly and get replaced by Christlikeness, the practical reality is that our imperfections seem to take too long to change. All this makes us become dissatisfied with ourselves, and we may even despise or hate ourselves. We may be upset with God for not making us in a better fashion, and also with our parents for not taking better care of us.

There are a few things we ought to consider that can help us to accept ourselves. First of all, we must be thankful that God has accepted us as His children. If He, the Ultimate Judge, considers it OK to accept us, so should we. Secondly we are in a process of transformation, like everyone else, and we need to accept the practical realities. We are not the same as what we were before we met the Lord, and not even what we were last year. This should encourage us to recognise that the Lord is at work in us. Thirdly, the special task that God has for us is unique for us and different from the tasks He has for everyone else. That is why He has made us different from the others and has given us special training through all our experiences. We should stop comparing ourselves with others, and come to terms with the fact that we will all be different from one another. Others may not be able to understand us always and we too might find it difficult at times to understand them. Once we come to terms with these things, we can accept ourselves.

Of course, it is clear that when we accept ourselves, or in other words we are OK with ourselves, it does not mean that we imply we are perfect! No. We are aware of our imperfections, but we are OK with them too as we are pressing on to perfection!

When we are able to be comfortable with ourselves, it becomes possible for us to be OK towards the others too. The same considerations we have towards us apply to them too.

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