Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
Are you tolerant? As Christians, we are called to love others. I Corinthians 13 says that love is patient, kind, and it is not rude. So we are bound by Biblical principles to be patient and kind to those of different opinions and behaviors that we do not necessarily agree with.
In our culture, the only wrong –is saying that something is wrong.
It’s actually quite confusing because we are told we are wrong for holding to our Biblical beliefs. For example, Kirk Cameron was a guest on the Piers Morgan show to promote his movie, Monumental. He had no plans to discuss issues outside of this movie but he was asked for his views on gay marriage.
Now, if Kirk strayed from what the Bible says on gay marriage – that would be newsworthy. But he did not. He stated what scripture says and his personal convictions and that led into a huge media frenzy about how intolerant he is.
This is tricky for Christians, right? Just verbalizing our beliefs immediately puts us into the category of “intolerant” – the ultimate cultural sin. Which leads us to silence.
Our culture says there are “no principles, there is no right or wrong.”
We believe “the Bible defines right and wrong”.
Hence, each time we hold to our Biblical principles we are seen as intolerant.
How Tolerant Should a Christian Be?
1.) Freedom of Religion. In America, we have the freedom of religion. It is a wonderful blessing. I believe all religions should have freedom to practice their faith and we should tolerate each other. This does not mean we do not hold out the good news of the gospel to them, but it does mean that we are loving, patient and kind to those of other faiths. We do not want to be clanging cymbals as I Corinthians 13 says.
We cannot expect someone that holds to a different set of beliefs to follow our set of beliefs nor do we have to adhere to their belief system.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” ~ I Corinthians 13:1
2.) We should love our neighbor. The greatest command is to love God and the second, is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Everyone God has placed into our lives – brothers, sisters, Aunts, Uncles, co-workers, church members, cashiers, bank tellers, coffee baristas, bus drivers, you name it – we are commanded to love them. Be kind. Be a friend. Listen, love, comfort, encourage and pray for those God has placed into your life. Love your neighbor, so when doors open for sensitive topics to be discussed, they know without a shadow of a doubt, you have their best interest at heart.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” ~Mark 12:30,31:
3.) Give Grace to your brothers and sisters in Christ. I need grace. I need the cross and redemption and I need forgiveness. Each of us are at different places on our journey.
Some have just begun and others, have been in the church all their lives. Some have been in strong, Bible preaching, doctrinally sound churches and others have been in weak churches. Some have strong holds that they need to break free from. Some have trials and burdens that are weighing them down and need the body of Christ to be there holding them up. Some have not studied scripture and are led astray by culture – we need to lovingly lead them back to the truth. Grace.
Galatians 6:1,2: Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
4.) Stand strong on the core doctrines of the faith. As believers we have core doctrines. Jesus is God. The Bible is God breathed. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the 3rd day.
If someone claims to be a Christian but speaks against these core doctrines – no tolerance. The church is not to tolerate heresy within the church.
2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
5.) What the Bible calls sin – within the church – we call sin. I sin –every.single.day. I have to agree with the Bible on my sin. When I lose my temper with my kids – that is sin. When I disrespect my husband – that is sin. When I gossip with a friend – that is sin. When I feel lazy or impatient or grumpy or whiney or mopey – that is sin. The life of the believer is one of repentance and keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. As believers – we must not tolerate sin in our own lives.
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
I Corinthians 6:9-11 (niv)
The church will become a very unfriendly place if we spend all our time confronting sin in other people’s lives. So this is not about confrontation and more about self-reflection. What sin are you tolerating in your own life.
This mantra of tolerance – to the point of accepting sin – has seeped into the church. Never have I seen sheep attacking each other in a pasture but that is exactly what is happening in the family of God. Not only is the world silencing Christians, but the liberal, progressive Christians also demand us to be silent about Biblical principles with the threat that they will label us as intolerant, judgmental, and unloving.
Speaking the truth in love –is not unloving.
I will not be silent nor be silenced – not on-line nor in real life. I believe that life comes through the written words of God. That God transforms lives through his truth and his truth sets us free. I want to see the lost souls saved, broken hearts healed, the spiritually dead risen to new life and those bound up in sin – free!
I love God. I love people. And I want the people I love, to know the God I love.
But it comes with a cost. Evangelism. Standing on God’s word. Defending truth. It’s sweet when we see a love one saved but it’s not so sweet when we anger those we love and the gospel offends. That is when the words begin to be thrown like daggers at us…
Next Monday, I will discuss how we should respond to these sorts of labels.
But I close with this question.
Are we sincerely loving others? God defines sincere love in Romans 12:9:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Walk with the King,
The other posts in this series:
Speaking the Truth In Love
The Authority of Scripture and 5 Ways to Defend Truth
The Ultimate Cultural Sin –Intolerance
How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, and Hater
What is Sound Doctrine?
Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?
Can a Woman Be an Elder or Pastor?
Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?
Can Good Works Save You?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing