Self-Acceptance in the Process of Salvation

Augustus Henry
Inspiration from New Creation Ministry —
By Augustus Henry (PhD)

In this message we contrast two bible characters, one from Mathew 19, and the other from Luke 19, to see how self-acceptance informed their salvation:

Matt. 19: 16 – 22 : Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So, He said to him, “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” …and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Our First Elder, Brother Nelson always quotes the adage: know thine self and to thine self be true! In the same way, self-acceptance requires knowing and accepting yourself for who and what you are. The second stage of that journey is to be true to what you need to be, or what you are called to be. The rich young ruler in the above scripture understood that he needed to be more than what he was. That’s why he was asking for the way of salvation. However, he had invested his entire identity so deeply in wealth that He could not be move beyond what he was, to what he was meant to be.

Self-acceptance that hinders growth

Self-acceptance: The first part is defined as an individual’s acceptance of all of their attributes, positive or negative. To be self-accepting is to feel satisfied with who you are, despite flaws and regardless of past choices (Jeffrey Sumber). The rich young man knew his strengths: keeping the commandments; his weakness: needing salvation. The problem is he remained satisfied with just knowing himself. So, when the means of salvation was extended to him, he was so committed to his initial self-identity of power, fame, and wealth. That is the reason he could not separate himself enough to receive salvation, the best thing for him.

Some people remained stuck in the first step of self-acceptance, the acknowledgment of who you are; the acceptance of your good and your bad, your strengths and weaknesses; your demons and your angels. Therefore, these people are reluctant to embrace the full measure of self-acceptance that moves beyond what feels good for self to the realm of what is best and wholesome for self; for the soul.

Most people are stuck on number 1. They are stuck in the ‘come as you are’ and ‘stay as you are’ phase. They are people who would say don’t judge me. But God says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” The problem is some come with crimson coloured sin and stay with crimson coloured sin. Some come with scarlet coloured disposition and remain identified with that filth.

Some people never move from 25 years of anger, others still hold fornication as a weakness after 50 years in the Christian faith. Some will harbour unforgiveness and resentment after thirty years. Some of us still can’t manage our anger after 40 years. Some are in church for 25 years and still petty as a child. Every little thing disturbs them; every comment is taken personally. Their hearts are still red as crimson and their dispositions are still coloured as scarlet and they refuse to allow Jesus to move them onward to a new identity. The Bible says that the path of the righteous burns brighter and brighter onto a perfect day. Yet, some of us are still in the junction where we started.

Self-acceptance that inspires progress.

Compared to The Rich Young Ruler, Zacchaeus moved the process of Self-acceptance to the second level:

Luke 19:1 – 10: Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. …because he was short, …he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So, he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The interesting thing about Zacchaeus is that his identity was loosely tied to his status, social standing, and wealth. Two men came to Jesus, both seeking salvation. Each of these men identify as wealthy. And these wealthy men were having to seek help from Jesus, a man with no economic status. Their identity and ego must have taken a bruising since they had to come down from their lofty social class of wealth and affluence to do something that the wealthy hardly ever does – to beg and accept an alternate lifestyle. Believe me, their identity was challenged.

Comparing and contrasting those two individuals seems an interesting way to illuminate the choices Jesus presents between the two kingdoms – God’s and that of the prince of darkness. More salient, I think, is the question of identity; the shedding of one’s accepted self in the process of choosing salvation. But moving beyond acknowledging one’s strengths and flaws was the hallmark of the second man’s interaction with Jesus.

Self-acceptance, the second part: Set an intention—According to psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber, MA, “It is vital that we set an intention for ourselves that we are willing to shift paradigms from one world [ view to another] world [view]. In that way, self-acceptance is not complete until one is able to move beyond current self.

There is an old Negro Spiritual that conveys that message:

Things I used to do I don’t do no more.
been a great change since I been born.
Lies I used to tell I don’t tell no more.
been a great change since I been born.
People I used to hate I don’t hate no more.
Great change since I been born.
Roads I used to walk I don’t walk no more.
been a great change since I been born.
A new song been sung since I been born.
been a great change since I been born.

The culminating message here: don’t let self-impede your salvation.

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