To show God's love to others, Christians must offer their acceptance, not necessarily their approval, Pastor Rick Warren says.
Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, wrote in his Daily Devotional on Wednesday that God calls on believers to accept people from all walks of life, but that does not mean he wants people to approve of everyone's actions.
"Do you understand the difference between acceptance and approval? You can accept someone without approving of everything that person does," Warren adds.
"We are to accept everybody; we are not to approve everything everybody does," he continues. "So no matter what people do or who they do it with or how they do it, or how long they do it, you are to love them. You are to accept them. It does not mean that you approve of what they do. God loves you, but it doesn't mean he approves of everything you do. Love is not saying I approve of everything you do. Love is saying I accept you in spite of what you do."
The evangelical leader points to Romans 15:7 as evidence of the importance of accepting others. The verse says: "Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory."
By showing acceptance of others, Christians are showing God's love and therefore accepting His glory.
"Did you know that every time you show love, it gives glory to God? Because God is love, and glory is revealing what God is really like," Warren explains. "God says He wants you to become godly. He wants you to develop his character. Like father like son, like father like daughter. He wants you to learn to love people the way he loves people. God is love."
The evangelical leader has spoken on the topic of acceptance before, explaining that although humans naturally strive to feel accepted by others, they do not need to work for God's acceptance, which is already unconditionally offered to them.
"When you're accepted, it does tremendous things for your self-esteem. The truth is, Jesus accepts you, and that acceptance is not based on your performance. In fact, you may have received Christ and accepted Jesus into your life, but do you realize that you're able to do that because Jesus accepted you? You don't have to earn his acceptance; you don't have to prove yourself to him," Warren explains in a previous devotional.
"We need to stop thinking, 'I've got an un-pleaseable God up there, and I've got to be a good boy or good girl to be accepted.' God, through Jesus Christ, has already accepted you. That's the Good News!" the pastor adds.