Receive one another as Christ has received you (Romans 15:7).
Okay, the verse sounds great. But how do we do what it says?
What does “receiving one another” mean?
What does it look like?
In Latin, the prefix “re” indicates repetition or restoration.
The root word, “ceive” means to take or catch.
Thus, “re-ceive” means “to take or catch repeatedly or restoratively.”
To receive someone in a social setting means to take them in and care for them. Get them comfortably seated with a cup of coffee or help them get settled in their room with all the necessary comforts for their stay.
To receive someone emotionally means to take in and care for their emotions. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But the problem is that we, the receivers, get in the way. For most people, physical reception is easier than emotional reception.
In order to receive, we must first have somewhere to put the delivery. If there’s nowhere to put it, often we can’t receive it. Without a receptive place inside of us at the time, helpful it is to imagine a large storage bowl sitting in front of us. Everything the person shares with us falls into the bowl. When they finish, we can choose what to do with the contents. Store it on the shelf for later, sift through the contents piece by piece or simply throw it away. We decide what we do with the contents depending on the situation.
Receiving others can be challenging because our internal bombs can go off when others share. This happens when we forget our boundaries while they are speaking. Our various temperaments, backgrounds, traumas, self-talk and habits interplay with these unstable bombs planted during our formative years. Often we’re not even aware of the bombs or much less know what in the world to do with them. Mostly we want to just play it safe and keep them covered up.
However, in spite of our efforts to hide our bombs, life has a way of uncovering them for us. The bombs can blow up as small, muted background explosions we choose to ignore or they can blow up like grenades in our faces while we lose our composure.
We must remember that when someone is sharing, their mouth is moving, not ours. When their mouth moves, their heart is exposed. When they speak, we hear what lies inside their heart.
Imagine their tongue extending back down their throat all the way to their heart because spiritually the heart and tongue are fully connected.
When the other person speaks, they are sharing their perspective, not ours. It’s about them, not us. It is their heart we want to learn about because we already know about our own. Even if they are speaking about us, still it is their perspective they present. The issue they have about us may have very little to do with us, but more to do with their needs or traumas or projections. Their perspective of us we need not defend ourselves against. Their words represent one perspective from inside one soul out of six billion people. The issue is whether or not we want to improve our relationship with this particular person. If we do, we must learn about their heart through receiving their words.
Certainly when our boundaries are violated, it is time to interrupt and take action. But in general, learning to listen to others is a gift to them just as being heard well by another comforts us (2 Cor. 1:3,4). In addition, the more we face and quiet our internal bombs the more room we make within ourselves to receive others gracefully.
In regards to others receiving our perspective, we must be aware that they have bombs just as we do. The more we take care to sidestep their bombs the more likely our perspective will be received by them. Furthermore, “sandwiching” our issue makes it more palatable and thus easier for them to digest. “Sandwiching” is a common sense way to approach another when we need to make a meaty point that could potentially upset them. We cushion the hard to swallow point between two soft positive points, the main point being the meat and the outer points being the two pieces of bread.
Let’s say, I want my daughter to finish her chores on time, but she is touchy today and struggles with time management issues. Ways to manage her time successfully we have discussed. She understands and just needs to apply what she already knows.
Simple sandwiching example:
“I really appreciate your help. I need you to finish on time. Thank you for your hard work.”
(1) BREAD: “I appreciate your help.” The first statement of appreciation prepares her heart to receive the point of finishing on time.
(2) MEAT: “I need you to finish on time. (OR “How can I help you finish on time? Do we need to review what we discussed about time management?”) The main point is made.
(3) BREAD: “Thank you for your hard work.” The closing gratitude and acknowledgment of her efforts helps the main point to digest.
When we learn to help others receive us, they have an easier time trusting us which makes it easier for us to receive them (Gal. 6:7).
We Have Been Received
Receive one another as Christ has received you. The verb, received, in this verse is past tense. Our purpose and reason for receiving others is the reception that Christ has given to us: complete and absolute reception with no limitations. He receives each of us fully and totally in our fallen human state of helplessness. Already He has received our thoughts, our emotions, our griefs, our sorrows, our anger, our despairs, our daily struggles and deep hidden pain (Is. 53:5). He fully understands each one of us (Heb. 4:15). He was one of us 2000 years ago, and still is today because He placed us in Himself forever while He lives in our hearts. We are One with Him.
There is nothing we can experience that Christ doesn’t already relate to completely (1 Cor. 10:13, John 1:14). He has broken the sin barrier and there is no separation anymore (1 Cor. 6:17, Eph. 2:15, Heb 10:10, 14, 18). There is no physical barrier, no emotional barrier, no mental barrier, no social barrier, no racial barrier with Him.
Our experience of Christ’s all out reception of us gives us His grace to learn to extend that reception to others. His grace teaches us “to take or catch others repeatedly or restoratively” as He does so well with us. Repetitive reception brings restoration. Restoration is what relationships need to grow.
Let us learn to receive one another as Christ has received us (Rom. 15:7).
Receive one another as Christ has received you.
for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks
He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
2 Corinthians 1:3,4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed
1 Corinthians 6:17
But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.
He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations.
Hebrews 10:10,14, 18
10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
14 …because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.