Life At Its Best: Embrace differences of others
By By Jim Graff
Dec. 7, 2012 at 6:07 a.m.
Every person is unique. Though some people may be similar to us, none of us is exactly the same. And, because we're different, we have different ways of perceiving the world. I began to see this truth over and over again after my wife and I got married.
In some areas, Tamara and I have a lot in common. We have the same values and dreams, and we enjoy many of the same activities. But in other areas, we couldn't be more different.
For instance, I'm a planner. I like to know what I'm doing and when I'm doing it. My wife, on the other hand, tends to focus on the present and enjoy the moment.
At first, these differences created some conflict in our relationship. We found ourselves trying to change each other. I wanted her to be more organized, and she wanted me to lighten up. However, we soon learned that changing each other wasn't the answer. We discovered that God had placed individual characteristics in us for a reason, and it wasn't to frustrate us.
So, instead of despising our differences, we began to embrace and appreciate them. That's not to say we didn't work on growing in our individual areas of weakness because we certainly did. It's just that our differences were no longer points of conflict. They became an opportunity to learn from each other.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, "Two people are better than one for they can help each other succeed." God never intended for us to do life alone. He's given each of us unique perspectives and personalities because we need each other. We shouldn't let our differences be a cause for strife. Instead, we must learn to appreciate and learn from those around us. When we do, we'll find that our differences make us stronger.
The apostle Paul recognized the importance of these refining relationships, but he also knew it wasn't easy. That's why he commanded the people of Ephesus to "be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Accepting each others' differences in order to live in unity requires effort. According to Paul, it necessitates several things. First of all, it calls for humility and understanding. That doesn't mean we always have to agree. But it does mean we can be agreeable even when we disagree.
Then, it requires us to be gentle and patient. We must constantly remind ourselves that we all have different areas of strength and weakness. None of us is perfect; we're constantly in the process of learning and growing. And finally, it calls for us to "make every effort." That means we must be persistent in pursuing peace with one another.
So today, I encourage you to never let your differences lead to division. Instead, take time to listen to and learn from others. Allow them to strengthen you in your areas of weakness and strive to do the same for them. Remember, we're all better together.
Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.