Is God Tolerant?

Our world is full of a variety of opportunities for us to “live tolerant” ~ be it religion, diet & exercise, politics….and many more.

Actually, let’s look at what these words mean via the dictionary:

Tolerateto allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit; to endure without repugnance; put up with.

Tolerant: inclined or disposed to tolerate; showing tolerance; forbearing; tolerant of errors; favoring toleration.

Intolerant: refers to an active refusal to allow others to have or put into practice beliefs different from one’s own.

In our current culture, if anyone disagrees with you on ANY matter, then it is determined that the person no longer accepts you as a valuable person.  That is what the world says.  The world says that we must collectively as a culture be completely tolerant, regarding each person’s life choices because it’s not nice to offend anyone.  Maybe it doesn’t matter what life choices people make…as long as “it makes them happy and doesn’t hurt anyone.” Right? My friends, what a lie from the enemy this is!  Simply being interconnected with families, friends, co-workers, etc., we are bound in our relationships in a myriad of ways.  There is not really any kind of action, or choice, that one person can make for their own life that does not affect at least one other person.  If you can think of something….I’d love to hear your perspective on this…truly!

In searching scripture for the words “tolerate, tolerant, and intolerant” I found several mentions.

Jesus allowed people to have their own opinions all the time.  One of the most well-known parables is that of the ‘rich young ruler’ ~ we read in Matthew 19 that Jesus told him to sell all he had, distribute the wealth to the poor, and follow in the path that Christ walked with His disciples.  The young rich man could do it…he was extremely wealthy and he valued his wealth more than he did a life of following the Lord.  Jesus did not run after him.  He didn’t chastise him.  Jesus let him walk away because He knew what was in the heart of the young man.  

But when the Lord did some across someone who wanted to leave their life of sin, He was very clear that they should “go and sin no more.” We read this phrase in John chapter 8, about the adulterous woman.  She was set to be stoned (as was the custom of the day) because she was caught with a man who was not her husband.  We don’t know what Jesus was writing in the dirt (but I totally want to know!!) or if He was whispering anything to the crowd, but they all eventually went away.  Jesus did not give this woman a sermon on the sinfulness of adultery.  I believe she knew in her heart that what she was doing was wrong.  But in His gentle firmness, He told her that He did not condemn her…and followed it up by commanding her to go on with her life WITHOUT sin, and specifically, without the sin of adultery.

I’ve never heard a story about anyone who came to salvation with Jesus because someone made them feel guilty or ashamed.  People come to know the Lord and allow Him to have authority over them because of the unconditional love that Christ has for us.  However, the one condition Christ does give is…..go and sin no more.

The one time I found the word “tolerant” being used ~ it was in 2 Timothy 2:23-26, regarding how we as Christians must live our life: But have nothing to do with foolish and ignorant speculations [useless disputes over unedifying, stupid controversies], since you know that they produce strife and give birth to quarrels. The servant of the Lord must not participate in quarrels, but must be kind to everyone [even-tempered, preserving peace, and he must be], skilled in teaching, patient and tolerant when wronged. He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], and that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

Let me be clear that NONE of the scripture references I checked out talked about intolerance: having “an active refusal to allow others to have or put into practice beliefs different from one’s own.”

What God’s Word DOES SAY is that we, as believer’s in Christ, are not to tolerate: evilness, sin, physical abuse, wickedness, human sacrifice, pride, sexual immorality, and twisted doctrine. These are all actions by a person ~ not the person them-self.  Let’s be real here….we are all born sinners, yet Christ came to die for sin within humanity, and He did so willingly.  He came before we had knowledge of His saving grace (Romans 5:8). It is our choice to be reconciled back to Christ, but we have to lay down our own wants and desires and agree to have Him be the Lord of our life (John 6:44). 

The topic of salvation, Christ-like living, and all that being a Christian entails, these discussions are not always comfortable to have with friends/family who do not know the Lord as their Savior.  No one enjoys being told that they are wrong, or that they are living a sinful life.  But it is not by our human judgement that those loved ones are lost or saved ~ it is by sharing God’s good Word with them and encouraging them to make the choice that will ultimately save their life!  God is so very patient in terms of waiting for all to come to Him.

But He has no patience for sin…He will not ever tolerate sin and wickedness.  Sin is completely offensive to Him.  So offensive that God the Father could not look upon His own Son as He hung on the Cross…covered in our sin (Mark 15:34).

Hebrews 12:1-3, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Just because you do not agree with the way someone is living their life (in a worldly or sinful way) in such a way that they are completely outside the realm of God’s direction, does not mean that you hate that person.  What a disservice we do by not standing firm in our beliefs and sharing in love with that person, what we know to be our true identity in Christ.  Being a Christian does not mean we are perfect (btw…we never will be until the day we stand before Jesus in heaven), so if you are expecting your child, your spouse, your friends & family to be perfect….stop it!  Ain’t gonna happen!  Give them the same grace God gave you (and gives you on daily basis!) to learn what it is to surrender their will to the Lord’s.  The freedom they will experience can only come as we love them toward the choice to love the Lord God with all their heart, mind, body and soul! (Luke 10:27).

I love the following passage because it reveals the heart of Paul as he reacts to hearing that some people were offended by an exhortative letter he’d written.  He was writing to a group of new believer’s in Corinth.  He felt compassion that some had been hurt but he did not regret speaking God’s truth into their lives.

2 Corinthians 7:8-13 is part of a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth; listen with your heart as he poured out his, For even though I did grieve you with my letter, I do not regret it [now]; though I did regret it —for I see that the letter hurt you, though only for a little while— yet I am glad now, not because you were hurt and made sorry, but because your sorrow led to repentance [and you turned back to God]; for you felt a grief such as God meant you to feel, so that you might not suffer loss in anything on our account. For [godly] sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow [the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe] produces death. For [you can look back and] see what an earnestness and authentic concern this godly sorrow has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves [against charges that you tolerate sin], what indignation [at sin], what fear [of offending God], what longing [for righteousness and justice], what passion [to do what is right], what readiness to punish [those who sin and those who tolerate sin]! At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in the matter.So even though I wrote to you [as I did], it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but in order to make evident to you before God how earnestly you do care for us [and your willingness to accept our authority]. It is for this reason that we are comforted and encouraged.”

{The verses I have used today, are from the Amplified version of the Bible.  I really like the investigative and information way this version is written.  It takes a bit longer to read through the scriptures, simply because there are more words per verse, but the descriptive parts of each passage enlighten the understanding we can have of these verses.}

The following passage in 2 Timothy is beautifully written as to HOW we are to show the love of Christ to those who are yet to be saved, as well as those who are living a Christian life.  There must always be learning, correction, and encouragement of both those things in our lives so that we may continually mature as a believer. Especially in our current day and age, we are challenged daily because of our beliefs.  The reminders to be calm and steady are, I believe, just as important as being patient and encouraging.

2 Timothy 4:1-6, I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word [as an official messenger]; be ready when the time is right and even when it is not [keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome]; correct [those who err in doctrine or behavior], warn [those who sin], exhort and encourage [those who are growing toward spiritual maturity], with inexhaustible patience and [faithful] teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable]. But as for you, be clear-headed in every situation [stay calm and cool and steady], endure every hardship [without flinching], do the work of an evangelist, fulfill [the duties of] your ministry.”

Let me end today…it was a long one, so thanks for sticking with it…by saying that my hope and desire is that everyone who is not a Christian, have the opportunity to encounter a believer who is as gracious and loving as our Lord Jesus.  But must also understand that the sin by which they are living within their own life cannot be supported by a Christian, because it is in direct conflict with what the truth of God’s Word is.  It is not comfortable to look within ourselves (Christian or not) and see the parts of our life that are sinful.  Our humanness detests being told we are wrong about something; to stop doing something because God says so.  It is because of God’s immense love for us that He is patient as we navigate this life…and when we find Him, how can we do anything but live a life rightly before God, to honor and serve Him with all our heart, mind, body and soul.

Blessings,

René

2 Timothy 2 verse 24

 

 

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