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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves . . . May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had . . . Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.”—Romans 15:1, 5, 7 (NIV)
As a child, I often heard about racial prejudice, but I never thought twice about it. But now, as a middle-class white mother raising a beautiful, intelligent, amazing, brown-skinned child, I have a completely different perspective.
Racial jokes and slurs are offensive and belittling. My daughter is very observant of the strangers we encounter. If I feel her snuggling up to me in public, it’s usually because someone is staring. Being a family of mixed races has its challenges.
One day, as we were leaving a grocery store, a woman marched up to my daughter and me and accused me of adopting my daughter so she could be my servant. Why? Because my daughter was carrying our bags of groceries. The woman said I was forcing my child to carry the bags, when in fact, she was only carrying them because she wanted to carry the bags! I begged this stranger to come back into the store so the checkout clerk could vouch for me, as the clerk had watched my daughter and me arguing over her wanting to carry all of them. But the lady wouldn’t listen. Her mind was made up.
After this incident, in the midst of anger and tears, my daughter said, “I hate that woman!” “No, no, no!” I exclaimed. “We will not be like that woman. We will not judge her the way she judged us. We don’t know her story,” I explained to my sweet child.
As I look at these verses, I can’t help but love the Scriptures a little more. God saw the prejudices of people since the beginning of time and knew they would always plague mankind. So, God tells us to “bear with one another in their weaknesses.” That includes the woman at the grocery store. He says to encourage others. Even if they don’t think or live like we do. He says to accept one another, regardless of their skin color, their sexual preferences, or their religion. God looks at the heart, and we need to do likewise, knowing that God may use the strong people of faith to bring about change in the weak.
DIG: Are you prejudiced? Think about your everyday world and consider how you might be a little more accepting of others who are different from you.
DISCOVER: Read through Romans 15 and ask the Lord to reveal someone He wants you to reach out to that you may have otherwise avoided.
DISPLAY: Take that person to lunch or out for coffee. You might find you have more in common than you think.