Sisterhood…Accepting Differences

Once we are able to embrace who we are, the next step is to be willing to accept the differences of others.

We are all different, we come from different place in the country and even the world.  We have different backgrounds, goals, needs, and even beliefs. That doesn’t mean that we cannot live in true unity with one another.

Our team of MAF missionaries all come from different places and walks of life.  We have had to learn to overlook some differences in one another for the higher purpose of living and working in unity.  We live in a community that is not primarily Christian, and we feel so strongly that our testimony of unity in the body of Christ is important that we are willing to overlook the differences in one another.

I’m not saying that it is easy, but we work at it in order to promote the bonds of peace and the unity that only Christ can bring as we live and work and minister together.

Ephesians 4:2 says, “..with all humility and gentleness with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.”

Living in unity doesn’t mean that we agree with everyone else’s beliefs, it doesn’t even mean supporting beliefs that you strongly disagree with, but it does mean being willing to love the person behind the belief.  And, if necessary, taking your concern in conficence to that particular person.  Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”  Sometimes the most loving thing we can do when we disagree with someone is to love them enough to speak the truth in love, but behind closed doors. 

We have to be willing to stand for truth, but to do so in love and with grace.  And when we feel that one of us is straying, loving that person enough to come alongside of them, to have the hard conversation, to seek truth together, instead of speaking ill of them.

We need to have the courage to speak to one another, instead of about one another. 

True unity isn’t agreeing with everyone on everything.  It isn’t always getting along and never having conflict.  True unity is working through the mess together, not giving up on one another, and spurring one another on in love and truth.  And, there are certainly times where love means quietly stepping back from a friendship, if there is a true impasse. BUT, continuing to love the person and staying committed to their ultimate good.

Think for a minute: Is there someone that you have wronged in this area? Perhaps you have been so intent on standing for truth, you forgot to do it in love? Or maybe there is someone who really rubs you the wrong way and you have spoken ill of them either online or behind the scenes. If so, you may want to think of asking that person’s forgiveness.

Ephesians 4:31-32 encourages us to, “ Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.

The other posts in this series:

Sisterhood…The Call

Sisterhood…Embrace

Sisterhood….Get Real

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  • http://thechuppies.blogspot.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

    I love this post Joy…this is how the Body of Christ should look…
    Looking out for others over self.
    Quick to forgive and assuming the best.
    Expecting that there will be mistakes and sin (because we are all broken people in a broken world)…but pursuing genuine healing and forgiveness.
    “As far as it depends upon me…to be at peace with all men”…not at the expense of Truth or the gospel, but with God’s gifting of grace.
    Love this!

    • Joy

      Yes, thank you Kara for sharing. I love what you wrote at the end, “not at the expense of Truth or the gospel, but with God’s gifting of grace.” Exactly!

  • http://www.heartchoices.com Debbie

    This is so true. I love what you wrote:

    “We need to have the courage to speak to one another, instead of about one another.”

    Sometimes people are afraid to offend or do not like confrontation. But in private and in love, this can be done. This is a good reminder.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

    • Joy

      Thanks Debbie. Yes, you are right, I think many of us are scared, to be honest. It is really hard to offend or confront….there is no personal gain in it, so our selfish humanness gets in the way! :)

  • Anonymous

    Another great post, Thank you Joy for encouraging us with your words of wisdom!!!

    • Joy

      Thanks Renee. I always love to hear from you!

  • http://www.littlewritermomma.com/ Lisa

    I LOVE this photo…I LOVE that it is a reminder of the small but wonderful community you have found yourself in and how you must deal with difference or end up divided in a very real way…Our church is so large that it is easy to “hide” sometimes, but your thoughts here have reminded me that hiding from people who are “different” or difficult is not the answer…I must continue to be prayerful about ways to work through things together…

    • Joy

      Thanks Lisa, for joining the conversation! I love hearing your thoughts…it is HARD to no hide and it is only through intentionally choosing NOT to hide that I’ve been able to step out and do the hard stuff. :)

  • http://simplystriving.wordpress.com/ Nikki @ Simplystriving

    I am loving this series, Joy! I’ve always been perplexed as to why this doesn’t come easy. After reflecting on all the Savior overlooked in us, one would assume we’d be easy to return the favor!

    • Joy

      You would think, huh Nikki?! I think that because we are just so full of our own sin that we are too easily swayed to look at ourselves. What do you think?

  • Tonya Daniels

    Great reminder Joy! Just read something similar in my bible study and have felt very mindful of how big a part humility plays in our unity with other believers. You put it so well when you stated that your unity is a true reflection of the body of Christ…. something all of us who believe in Him should constantly be reminded of!

  • http://www.theinspiredbudget.com Tanya@The Inspired Budget

    Thank you! Society needs to remember that tolerance really means forbearing with one another, dealing with each other’s differences without going to war over them. Working through the mess together is a good way to put it!

  • http://youaremygirls.com Jennifer Camp

    Your sharing at Relevant was so powerful. I wanted to thank you personally, but I chickened out! You encourage unity with your transparency, trusting the Father with your heart as you chose to be vulnerable. Thank you so much for the nudge here to engage in working “through the mess together”. Gratefully, Jennifer

  • http://twitter.com/dayspring82 Stacy Williams

    This is a great post! Thank you for sharing!

    ~Stacy from http://www.findingpurposeinthepain.blogspot.com/

  • Camille

    Ephesians 4:32 is the theme verse for our family. Especially the children…but a good reminder for us ‘big’ kids too!

  • http://houghslife.blogspot.com Sarah

    Thank you for this! It is very refreshing and inspiring to be challenged by somoeone who understands this strange yet blessed life we live as missionaries. I especially needed to hear this one about accepting differences as God is working on something specific with this very issue. Thanks Joy!

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  • Amy

    Thank you. So much.