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  • Pr George Ang

Affirmation! Acceptance! Appreciation!

How do we build an embracing community? When I think about embracing, I think about encouraging. ‘To embrace’ means “to hold someone closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection”. It can also mean “to accept a belief, a theory, or a change willingly and enthusiastically. In this sense, it can mean “to accept a person who may be different from yourself willingly and enthusiastically.”

What is the undergirding principle of an embracing community? To me, it would be love, the steadfast love of Christ. How can we begin to exercise this love of Christ in our community? I would like to address three attitudes to enhance our relationship with each other in this community. One attitude which we can adopt is: Affirmation.

What is affirmation? Affirmation is to give assurance to others for the things that they have done. Words of affirmation are really needed in a community, as we want to build up each other in the faith. If someone has done something for the first time, what they need is word of affirmation. Even for a small service rendered, giving a word of affirmation means a lot to that person who served so willingly and cheerfully. If a person served as a reader in a worship service, it will be good to give him or her a word of affirmation such as “You have read it clearly and concisely. Keep up the effort!”

Any word of affirmation must be sincere and truthful. Affirmation needs to be cultivated by each one of us. How it is said lends a great impact to the receiving person. It is good to render words of affirmation to one another graciously. When someone interacts with a newcomer for the first time, we should affirm that person, thus giving emotional support to the work he/she is doing.

Another attitude which we can adopt is: Acceptance. When I look at this word ‘acceptance’, it reminds me of Romans 15:7 NLT which states: “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” Who would like to be excluded from the community of believers in this community? Surely no one We all desire acceptance and want to be accepted. What is acceptance? Acceptance is to give assurance to others for who they are, remembering that they are made in the image of God. ‘To accept’ means “to welcome” or “to include” or “to receive”. If Christ Jesus has accepted you for who you are, no matter what you have done or how you look like physically, how can we not do the same thing for others within our community? Regardless of one another’s differences, upbringings, statuses and qualifications, we should reach out to them with a heart of acceptance.

The context of Romans 15:1-7 Bible passage is about those who are strong bearing patiently with those who are weak. We should be living to please others and not just to please ourselves. That is stated in verses 1-2: “We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” Let us not become too critical and judgemental of others but instead let us accept one another just as “Christ Jesus has accepted you”.

Another attitude which we can adopt is: Appreciation. What is appreciation? It is to give assurance to others both for the things that they have done and for who they are; it is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. Do we think that we need to give more words of appreciation to each other in this community? To me, affirmation and acceptance would lead to appreciation. When someone know that what he has said or what he has done has been recognised, there will be this unspeakable gladness in their heart. Let us not be stingy in giving word of appreciation to each other.

I am very appreciative of those who have prayed for me and of those who have encouraged me to press on in the faith and in the service of our Lord Jesus. I am also very appreciative of those who have supported me with any kind of help which I may need. What I have lacked, others are willing to supply. We really need one another within a community.

My encouragement for us is to pray and ask God how we can be a blessing to each other, whether with words of affirmation, words of acceptance or words of appreciation. We really need to affirm, to accept and to appreciate.

As instructed in Hebrews 10:24-25: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

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