Chapter 1.
Tolerance

Luke 9:49-50

And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. [50] And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

In Luke chapter nine, we came across two verses that dealt with the issue of "tolerance." We touched upon them briefly and then moved on to succeeding verses. What I want to do at this juncture, is return to these two verses and deal with this topic. I have been a Christian since 1971, and have never heard a message or a study on this particular issue. That is why we are addressing it now because I was curious myself to find out what God had to say about the matter since there is so much confusion today about what it means to be tolerant.

Webster defines it as "the capacity to endure pain or hardship, sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own, or the act of allowing something."

The issue of "tolerance" is not an easy issue because it demands wisdom and discernment in knowing when to be tolerant and when to be intolerant. Someone said, "Tolerance is seeing certain things with your heart instead of your eyes." It is also not easy to deal with this issue as a pastor because a preacher can be accused of being a compromiser when his counsel is "tolerance" and he can be accused of being cranky and prejudiced when he is intolerant. Jesus had to deal with this because of some of the sinners that He was trying to reach. Sometimes, you are in a "No Win" situation. Who said pastoring was easy? Put some duct tape on his mouth.

Let me say right up front that we are not to tolerate everything or everyone. That idea is promoted by this world, especially by those who live wickedly. They want their lifestyle to be accepted. Anyone who promotes the idea of "Tolerance No Matter What" does not know what he or she is talking about at all. The Bible definitely does NOT teach this concept. There are times or situations, however, that demand our tolerance, especially for the purpose of reaching people for Christ and helping immature Christians to grow in the Lord. This is where this study comes in, so that we might find some guidelines.

We are going to examine several areas as we deal with this issue to try to gain an understanding on what the Bible teaches about "tolerance." Hopefully, after we have finished, you will have a better grasp on this matter and have greater wisdom in knowing when to be, and when not to be "tolerant." We will direct our spiritual magnifying glasses on three key areas:

I. The Criterion of the Character of God

When we look at God Himself, we gain some interesting insights about the issue of tolerance. His example is a blueprint for us on how to discern what to do. When we look at the Lord, we find Him at times being very patient and tolerant, and at other times, very firm, stern, and intolerant. These examples will provide some guidelines for us on the issue of "tolerance."

1. The Lord and Sinners Reached: We find that the Lord Jesus tolerated the faults of sinners in order to reach them

This does not mean He lived like them or liked what they were doing. He was, however, very patient in trying to reach sinners with His message. His tolerance for all sinners enabled Him to lay down His life on the cross for you and for me.

Matthew 9:10—And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Romans 5:8—But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were vet sinners, Christ died for us.

2. The Lord and Suffering: Along the same lines as the first point, we find that Jesus even tolerated abuse and suffering inflicted upon Him by wicked people for the purpose of paying the price of our redemption

Isaiah 53:7—He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Christ was unjustly and unfairly treated at His crucifixion. His trial was rigged. His accusers were liars. His judge was corrupt. He had the power to destroy all of these people and show them who was boss, but He didn't. The Lord Jesus tolerated scorn, scoffing, smiting, scourging, and suffering because He had a bigger view of His circumstances.

Christ was not focused upon the present, He was focused on our future eternal destiny. That is a good principle for us to follow, too. Seeing the bigger picture of our circumstances may help us to face them when they are difficult. The bigger view may enable us to be more tolerant. The following questions may prove to be helpful in seeing a bigger picture of your situation.

3. The Lord and Society's Prejudice: Jesus did not tolerate the prejudice of society in His own heart and life

John 4:9-10... Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. [10] Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The Samaritans and the Jews did not get along at all, yet, this did not keep the Lord from trying to reach them. The Samaritans were extremely despised by the Jewish people. This is why the Samaritan woman was so surprised that Jesus was actually in Samaria and that He was talking to her. He knew the needs of this woman and reached out to help her. Her life was changed by His saving grace and love. If He tolerated prejudice in His heart, this would never have happened.

If you have a problem with people of a different skin color, whether it is white, black, brown, or yellow, you are going to have a difficult time reaching people for Christ and being used of God to glorify the Lord Jesus.

4. The Lord and Sin in the Saints: Sin was not tolerated in God's people, yet the Lord extended His hand to pull them out of their wickedness

Isaiah 5:25—Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

God dealt with the wickedness of His own people, yet, He still extended His invitation to them to repent and restore their relationship with Him.

5. The Lord and the Scandal and Suppression of the Saints: Jesus was intolerant of corruption in His temple and in the lives of those who claimed to know Him

John 2:14-17... And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: [15] And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; [16] And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. [17] And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

God's people are held to a higher standard than those who do not know Him. Those individuals who know God's truth will give a greater accountability for what has been revealed to them. Corruption and oppression, done in the name of God, were an abomination. The money changers were cheating the people as they came to offer their sacrifices to the Lord. The offering became a burden to the people instead of a blessing because of the injustice and fleecing of the people at the Temple site. They were financially gouging the worshipers by raising the prices of the animals to exorbitant prices. The actions of Jesus demonstrated how revolting this kind of behavior was to the Lord and the reason for His intolerance of it. We will look at this point in greater detail later in the study.

6. The Lord and Sensuality and Sinful Lifestyles: God is intolerant about us living our lives by the philosophy and sinful lifestyle of this wicked world

God's people should know better than to live like this.

James 4:4—Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The Lord is not only concerned about how we live on Sunday, but every other day of the week. He is concerned about the lifestyle that we lead because we are His ambassadors. The impression that people have of Jesus will be influenced by those who claim to know Him. For example, how many times have you heard the statement, "I'm not going to church because it is full of hypocrites." Someone's inconsistency has brought this person to this conclusion. When we are carnal and worldly, when we are friendly toward this world's philosophy and lifestyle, we are an enemy of God.

7. The Lord and the Seriousness of no Salvation: God is intolerant of any sinner who dies without faith in Jesus Christ

Because of their sin, lost sinners will not have eternal life. God does not tolerate any other way to Heaven except through His Son. No one but Jesus Christ can cleanse a person of their sins. This is why we are to be spreading the Gospel to the lost. Christ is the one that atones and covers the sin of the sinner when he puts his faith in Him. Without the atonement of Christ's blood, the Lord will not tolerate the presence of lost sinners in Heaven.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10... Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, [10] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Revelation 21:8—But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

John 8:24—I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 3:6-7... That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. [7] Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 14:6—Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Acts 4:12—Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Nahum 1:3a—The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked:

II. Concepts for Relationships with Others

We want to examine nine concepts about our relationship with people that will help us to grow in the area of tolerance. We will also note what can cause others to be intolerant with us.

1. The Concept of Service to Christ: Do your best to get along with other believers as you serve the Lord

Mark 9:38-40.... And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. [39] But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. [40] For he that is not against us is on our part.

1 Corinthians 1:10—Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Many of the conflicts between pastors, missionaries, and church members could be avoided if we would learn to be tolerant of the minor differences that we have with other believers. Serious doctrinal issues are that.... serious.

There are, however, many issues in Scripture that are trivial and not worth fighting about with others. Trivial matters demand tolerance. You are going to have to decide what matters are vital and what matters are trivial. If moral issues are at stake, then yes, speak up. Many conflicts, however, are just not worth fighting over at all.

2. The Concept about Suffering and Struggles with Others: Rejoice that Christ is glorified, even by those who oppose you

Philippians 1:15-18... Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: [16] The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: [17] But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel [18] What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Paul had people preach the Gospel out of spite for him. They were trying to get him into more trouble with the Roman authorities. Yet, Paul responded to this treatment with rejoicing because the Gospel was being preached. He tolerated, at his own expense, the bad motives of those who were trying to make more trouble for him. Paul also knew that the Lord would deal with those folks who were out to ruin him. He left those matters to God.

Romans 12:17-20... Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. [18] If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. [19] Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. [20] Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

God wants us to tolerate suffering in our lives, as difficult as that may be.

1 Peter 3:14—But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

1 Peter 3:17—For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

It doesn't matter how deep the pit we've stumbled into—we can always grasp at that ray of heavenly hope. For example, consider the plight of Lawrence Hanratty. Here is how the media covered it: Jolted, jilted, hammered in a car crash and robbed, Lawrence Hanratty was named Friday as the unluckiest man in New York. Nearly electrocuted in a construction site accident in 1984 that put him in a coma for weeks, Hanratty lost the lawyers fighting for his liability claim—one was disbarred, two died—and his wife ran off with her lawyer.

Hanratty, who spent years fighting heart and liver disease, had his car wrecked in a crash last year. When police left the scene of the accident, he was held up and robbed. "I say to myself, 'How much more am I going to be tested in life to see how much I can endure?'" Hanratty told this to the New York Daily News in a description of more than 10 years of agony. As if he hasn't tolerated enough hardship, 38-year-old Hanratty of New York, said an insurance company now wants to cut off his worker's compensation benefits and his landlord has threatened to kick him out of his apartment.

Depressed and suffering from agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces, Hanratty uses a canister of oxygen and takes 42 pills a day for his heart and liver ailments. But with help from neighbors and a New York state assemblyman, he is not giving up yet. "There's always hope," he said. "There's always hope," Mr. Hanratty was able to say, despite how little evidence life had given him to believe it. God wants us to have that same kind of hope, too.

Psalm 42:5—Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

We have examined two important concepts so far. The first was the concept about our relationships with other people. Secondly, we examined the concept of our service to Christ. Now we will direct our attention to the concept of serving other people.

3. The Concept about Serving Others: Tolerance with other people is strengthened by having a servant attitude and a concern for their needs

Romans 12:10—Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Matthew 5:41—And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Your tolerance level will increase if you can reach the point of having a servant spirit with other people, even with those folks that you don't like or take advantage of you. Paul instructed us to be lovingly tender with people. We are to take the lead and try to outdo others in honoring people. This is the idea of "preferring one another." Jesus said, "Go the second mile or make an extra effort to tolerate those who oppress, dominate, or control you." The toleration took the form of serving that person.

4. The Concept of Supplications: Tolerance is also increased by praying for and asking God's blessings upon those that hurt you

Romans 12:14—Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

If you can pray and bless those who persecute or harm you, you have reached a level of spiritual maturity that not many people have attained. You have learned to conquer pride, selfishness, and bitterness.

5. The Concept of Serenity toward Offenders: Tolerance is bolstered by forgiving your offenders and resting in the peace of God

Colossians 3:12-15... Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; [13] Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. [14] And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. [15] And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Learning to forgive your offenders will help you to be tolerant with them. Forgiving those who offend you is a good sign of spiritual growth. Delegating your problems, troubles, and hurt to the Lord will enable you to rest and have peace in your heart.

When we look at the life of Isaac, we find that he tolerated the selfishness, rudeness, and greed of the Philistines at his own expense. He would dig wells and they would fight with him over the wells. Finally, they left him alone.

Genesis 26:21—And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

Jacob tolerated the shiftiness of Laban who changed his wages ten times in order to take advantage of him. God, however, blessed Jacob in spite of Laban's greed.

Genesis 31:7—And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.

6. The Concept for Strengthening the Fallen and Saving Sinners: Tolerance is nourished by trying to reach sinners for Christ or restore those who have spiritually stumbled and failed

Galatians 6:1—Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Timothy 2:23-26... But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. [24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

2 Timothy 2:10—Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Repeatedly, we find that Paul counseled tolerance with those who were lost in order to try to reach them. This does not mean we have to indulge in their sinful habits or agree with their lifestyle. It does not mean we have to let them run over us and keep our mouth shut. You can graciously take a firm stand and speak up for what is right without being hateful or obnoxious. Your speech can be with grace, seasoned with salt and wisdom.

We are to endeavor to be patient with the faults of those who are backslidden or lost in order to try to reach and help them. That is not easy, but face it, they are LOST, just like you were at one time. We are to try to avoid debating and arguing with unbelievers, too. That accomplishes little. When people are ready to listen to what you have to say about the Lord, they will listen. If they are in "debate mode," you will need to wait until they have a change in heart.

Asking them a few probing questions periodically will reveal if there is an interest in spiritual matters. If they are truly seeking the truth or answers, then spend time with them answering their questions or challenges. Some challenges are for the purpose to find the truth or to see if you know what you believe. If you sense the person wants to just argue and is unteachable, then don't pursue the conversation any further. Wait for a change in heart.

How does a Christian develop a tolerant attitude toward those folks who are offensive and lost in their sinfulness? The answer is to remember the mercy that God extended to you before you were saved. Some may say, "I wasn't that bad before I trusted Christ." My answer is, "You were bad enough to go to Hell if you died without Christ." The mercy of God should encourage us to be merciful with others. Face it, where would we be without His mercy?

* The Mercy of God

a. The Mercy of God is Contained in God's Wisdom

James 3:17—But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

Why is it wise to be merciful? Mercy brings out the best in men. Mercy develops gratitude and loyalty in the hearts of those who have received it. Mercy fashions patience, tolerance, and forgiveness in those who use to be impatient and unforgiving with others. Mercy enables men to learn from their mistakes and to go forward in victory and fruitfulness. Mercy also makes men more teachable, which in turn, helps them to gain wisdom. They are more apt to listen to your counsel and receive your help because of the mercy extended to them.

God's wisdom is also merciful because He provides answers to the unmerciful problems we face throughout our life. Our circumstances, complications, confrontations, and condemnations can be as overwhelming as the fist of a tidal wave that pounds a quiet town nestled on the shores of the sea. The wisdom we gain from God is merciful in helping us to face our storms and grow through them.

b. The Mercy of God is Comforting

The mercy of God is comforting, like a soft puppy in the arms of a broken-hearted girl. Like a warm, crackling campfire on a crisp October night, the mercy of God melts a cold heart that has been frostbitten by sin. It is the mercy of God that moistens dry, cold eyes poisoned by sin, bitterness, and hate. His mercy gives us hope when hope is nowhere in sight or not deserved at all because of the comfort His mercy provides for us.

Psalm 119:76—Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.

c. The Mercy of God was Costly

The blood of Christ is the basis for our mercy and salvation. Without His suffering, shattering, scorning from godless mobs, and the slaughter at His crucifixion on Calvary, we would be strangers to His mercy. God's mercy was expensive.

Beloved, the cross was the mistletoe of Heaven where Jesus kissed and embraced the world and said, "I love you so much I will lay down my life for your sins so that you can have eternal life." I like what Peter said.

1 Peter 1:3—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

d. The Mercy of God is Compounded or great

Psalm 103:8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

Psalm 117:2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalm 108:4—For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.

Psalm 119:64—The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.

e. The Mercy of God is Continual

Mercy of God is continual like the distance from the East to the West or like beams of light that travel from one galaxy to another.

1 Chronicles 16:34—O give thanks unto the Lord: for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 100:5—For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalm 103:17—But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

f. The Mercy of God is Consistent

The mercy of God is consistent like the dawn of a new day or the beckoning of hunger from an empty stomach. We are inconsistent, but God is not. We are weak, but He is strong. We are incapable, but He is able. His consistency in faithfulness and success never falters, fails, fumbles, falls, flops, flounders, or fizzles out.

Lamentations 3:22-23.... It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. [23] They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

g. Mercy is Characteristic of God's Nature

Mercy permeates God's entire being like water in a healthy body. As far as man can comprehend God, His mercy goes beyond that comprehension. Mercy does not have a beginning with God, because He has always been merciful. He not only is love, He is merciful, demonstrating that He is not standing over us waiting to club us over the head. That is the concept of someone who has no clue who God is or what He is all about at all. It is the sentiment of someone who is rebellious, defiant, and bitter toward our Lord. God's being is merciful.

Psalm 116:5—Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful 1 Timothy 1:2—Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

h. The Mercy of God Clears us of our Sins

Joel 2:13—And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

The mercy of God cleanses us of our sins like a man who will wipe the foggy mist off the mirror in the bathroom after a steamy shower. When the water is wiped away, the image of the one who did the wiping is clearly seen. When God's mercy wipes and cleanses us, we see Him more clearly, too.

He is just, but He is also loving. He is strong, but He is also merciful. Kindness or mercy without justice is mushiness. Justice without any mercy has no power to move or change the stubborn heart. The cross of Calvary is the only place where the picture is in focus. God's justice and mercy came together in His love for sinners. Justice demanded payment for our sins. The price was death. The mercy of the Son of God said, "I will pay the debt with my own life." Because of His mercy, we don't get what we deserve.....Hell.

The Mercy of God demonstrates His power and authority, for the one who grants mercy demonstrates strength and power. The sinner always speaks from a position of weakness. He cannot cleanse and atone for himself. He cannot buy mercy or bestow mercy upon himself, for it must come from the only one who can grant mercy. It must come from the one offended or betrayed.

Mercy for salvation can only be given by the person who has the authority to give it, and that is Christ. If mercy could be purchased or earned by good deeds, it would no longer be mercy. It is for this reason that our salvation is by God's grace and mercy, not by our good works. Salvation is God-dependent, not man-dependent.

Titus 3:5—Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

i. The Mercy of God is Centered in God's Word and His Great Love for Us

Like the foundation of a great building, the foundation of God's mercy is dug into the granite bedrock of His goodness, greatness, God's Word, and His great love. That foundation will not crack, crumble, crash, or collapse.

Psalm 119:58—I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.

Ephesians 2:4—But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Hebrews 4:16—Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

j. The Mercy of God is Conferred on the Repentant, Merciful, and Prayerful

Matthew 5:7—Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Luke 18:13—And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Luke 1:50—And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

k. The Mercy of God is to be Copied by Us

Like a little lad that copies the actions of his father, we are to copy our Lord by being merciful to other people. The image of Jesus Christ is to glisten in our actions of love and mercy for others like rays of the sun that poke through blackened storm-clouds of gray.

Luke 6:36.... Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

A young employee secretly misappropriated several hundred dollars of his business firm's money. When this action was discovered, the young man was told to report to the office of the senior partner of the firm. As he walked up the stairs toward the administrative office, the young employee was heavy-hearted. He knew, without a doubt, he would lose his position with the firm. He also feared the possibility of legal action taken against him. Seemingly, his whole world had collapsed.

Upon his arrival in the office of the senior executive, the young man was questioned about the whole affair. He was asked if the allegations were true and he answered in the affirmative. Then the executive surprisingly asked this question: "If I keep you in your present capacity, can I trust you in the future?" The young worker brightened up and said, "Yes, sir, you surely can. I've learned my lesson."

The executive responded, "I'm not going to press charges, and you can continue in your present responsibility." The employer concluded the conversation with his younger employee by saying, "I think you ought to know, however, that you are the second man in this firm who succumbed to temptation and was shown leniency. I was the first. What you have done, I did. The mercy you are receiving, I received. It is only the grace of God that can keep us both."

We have been examining the concepts of tolerance with others. We have looked at six so far.

7. The Concept with Spiritually Immature Ones: Tolerance is to be demonstrated toward those who are immature Christians

Romans 14:1—Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Throughout your life, you will encounter Christians that are weak in the faith and spiritually immature. This does not always mean that the person is young and as my Dad would say, "Wet behind the ears." I have met many immature Christians in their 60's and 70's. Paul states we are to receive them in spite of their immaturity. What does this mean?

The word "receive" is from the Greek word proslambano {pros-lam-ban'-o} which means "to take as a companion or friend, to take by the hand in order to lead aside." Our time with these immature believers is not to be spent in arguing or debating with them over different opinions. This is what Paul meant by "doubtful disputations." There is much we can find agreement. Let me say there is nothing wrong in sharing what you believe from the Bible, as long as it is done in a Christlike manner. If the person is wanting to learn, then teach them. If they are wanting to argue or debate, don't waste your time.

8. The Concept of our Spitefulness: Intolerance in the lives of others is caused many times by our offensive actions or words

Proverbs 18:19—A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

We reap the intolerance of people when we ourselves have been harsh, rude, and hateful in our treatment of them. Unfortunately, we tend to take our family or close friends for granted and treat them rudely. Strangers get better treatment than those who are closest to us. When we deeply hurt those in our family, they can become extremely bitter and intolerant of our presence. Is everything OK with you and those in your family or church family?

9. The Concept of Self Worth or Pride: A proud spirit will cause a person to be intolerant of other people

Psalm 123:3-4... Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. [4] Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

Our arrogance turns people off like flicking a light switch. God resists the proud, as well as people.

We have examined two key areas concerning the matter of "tolerance" so far.

III. The Commands Concerning Corruption

We have examined concepts on tolerance in our relationships with other people and their faults. We have seen that we are to make an effort to try and reach them by being patient or tolerant with their faults. There are, however, times when we must put our foot down and say, "You have crossed the line. This will not be tolerated." This is why the issue of tolerance is so tricky. You have to discern when to be tolerant and when to say, "No, go no further." It is a delicate balancing act for sure, and at times, can be very stressful in knowing what to do. Hopefully this section will give you a little more light on what decisions to make when it comes to dealing with matters of corruption.

A. Corruption in our Own Life

When it comes to the matter of intolerance, the first place we are to direct our attention is upon our own life. We are not to tolerate sin and corruption in our own heart. Jesus was very stern with the religious Pharisees because of their hypocrisy in this area. If He felt this way about them, He feels the same way about us, too.

Matthew 23:24-28... Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [25] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. [26] Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. [27] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. [28] Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Matthew 7:3—And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22... Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. [22] Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Romans 12:9—Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:2—And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The word "conformed" carries the idea of toleration. It means "to adopt and conform to the pattern of another."

B. Corruption in the Lives of Others

The following illustrations reveal areas where corruption or evil was tolerated and also where it was not. They also provide insight why sin should not be tolerated in the church body, or as in the Old Testament, among the people of Israel. The effect is the same.

1. Evil was Not Tolerated by the Church at Ephesus

Revelation 2:2—I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Revelation 2:6—But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

2. Compromise with sin will affect your life and the church

Galatians 5:9—A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

The nature of evil seeks to be allowed and permitted on a basis of tolerance, freedom of expression, rights, and equal time. For example, evil was tolerated with the golden calves.

1 Kings 12:28—Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Evil is like leaven. To tolerate corruption is to give it liberty to affect areas that are still good. The nature of corruption is to spread. Potatoes rot and affect other potatoes; bread gets moldy; flesh gets infected and can turn to gangrene.

Once evil gets a foothold in your life, the nation, or in the church, you can count on it changing its tune about tolerance, equal time, and rights. When evil gains power or strength, it will then become intolerant and competitors will be whipped into submission. Toleration is replaced with totalitarianism. Look at the events of today and we see this fact.

In Canada, protestors to homosexuality are imprisoned. In this country, they are now trying to equate any criticism of homosexuality as a "hate crime."

The result to all of these compromises is the church is losing its saltiness and power because it is so much like the world. Becoming worldlier darkens and weakens the church. Our job is not to make sinners comfortable in their sin. Our responsibility is not to be politically correct. In most cases, political correctness is not scriptural correctness.

For example, political correctness says, "A woman has a right to murder her unborn baby." God never gave any mother the right to turn the most secure, sacred place of a baby's life into a slaughter house of convenience. Liberals have cried, "We can't vote for pro-life candidates because we can't go back to the butchery we had before the law was changed." Hello! Butchery is going on now. It has been made legal as babies are chopped up at a rate of 11/2 to 2 million per year in the United States alone.

Liberals cry, "We must protect women." These folks don't get it. Abortion endangers the women they claim they are trying to protect. It is very dangerous for a woman to get an abortion. It also endangers that woman who is still very tiny. Baby girls grow up to be women.

Another crazy philosophy offered by political candidates is, "I'm against late-term abortions when the baby is bigger or in the third trimester, but it's OK when it is smaller in its first weeks or months." Hello! The baby is a real human being in both stages of development! Some folks say it's OK to abort the baby in cases of rape, incest, or deformity. It is not the baby's fault that these things happen. The baby is still a real person. Killing it for these reasons does not make it acceptable with God.

There are times when compromise and toleration are just not an option. We need to take a stand against wrong or injustice and stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ and righteousness. Do you recall the young lady who, as valedictorian of her high school graduating class in Desoto, Texas, testified for Jesus Christ? At first, the principal flat-out said, "No." Only a threatened lawsuit changed that.

Then she was asked to rewrite her speech and tone it down. She did not. The speech was given as she had originally planned. This clearly demonstrates once again that Christianity is under attack. She could have quoted Buddha, Confucius, or Shirley MacClaine, but not God! Others have free speech. Christians don't! Consider the following observations by Steve Goad: Christians are more into tolerance than truth. Even Christians act ashamed. Truth has been sold out for popularity and acceptance. Preachers are encouraged to "tone it down" and not to "be so negative."

We have lost our zeal and our aggressiveness. We are totally passive, and defeated. The early church was militant. We are trying to be righteous without being too religious. It is not going to happen. The world is not listening to the church because the church is not talking. We have ceased preaching because we no longer have fire in our bones. Pulpits deliver feel-good sermonettes to Christianettes while the church dies. Shouldn't someone rattle our cages? I think so. Beloved, when you think about it, everything we believe in is offensive. God is offensive. Jesus is offensive. Truth is offensive. Preaching is offensive. The Bible is offensive. Godliness is offensive. So, for the sake of political correctness, do we abandon all these things? Where do we draw the line?

Let's wake up before our meeting houses become our tombs. Movements begin in caves and die in cathedrals. We cannot settle for life-support Christianity.

3. Prostitution and Homosexuality were not tolerated in Israel

This kind of lifestyle was considered an abomination to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 23:17-18.... There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. [18] Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Leviticus 18:22—Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Nothing has changed. Sodomy is not to be tolerated in the lives of Christians and in the local church. It is still an abomination to God. The government has chosen to protect this behavior, but God's Word makes it clear that sodomy is not be practiced by believers.

Romans 1:26-29, 32.... For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another: men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,.... [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Paul says that those who indulged in a homosexual lifestyle received in themselves the due penalty of their error.

4. Immorality and Idolatry are not to be tolerated by God's people

Such toleration brought the rebuke of God, hurt the testimony of God's people, and led to the destruction of churches and lives. It hurt and brought God's judgment in Israel, the church at Thyatira and at Ephesus. Firm measures of discipline were taken in dealing with the sin.

A. Israel tolerated idolatry

Exodus 32:1-5.... And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. [2] And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. [3] And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. [4] And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. [5] And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord.

This event brought God's judgment upon the people of Israel.

1 Kings 18:20-22... So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. [21] And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

B. The Church at Thyatira tolerated immorality and idolatry

Revelation 2:20—Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

C. The Church At Ephesus tolerated immorality

1 Corinthians 5:1-2.... It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. [2] And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

D. The Church at Pergamos tolerated immorality and idolatry

Revelation 2:14—But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

E. Eli the priest tolerated immorality and corruption in his sons

Eli tolerated corruption in his immoral sons who abused the sacrifice to the Lord and sexually seduced the women at the tabernacle. Eli's tolerance resulted in God's judgment on his family. He would find no atonement for his sin with his sacrifices or offerings.

1 Samuel 2:12-17.... Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. [13] And the priest's custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; [14] And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. [15] Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. [16] And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. [17] Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.

1 Samuel 2:22—Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

1 Samuel 3:12-14... In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. [13] For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. [14] And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

5. The church is not to tolerate a woman to be the pastor

I never cease to be amazed at churches that violate this principle. One of the main reasons they do this is because they are not Bible—believing churches. Smorgasbord Christianity has severely damaged our churches today. We are not to be picking and choosing what Scriptures we like and trash the rest. God has designed a chain-of-command for the church and for the home. When we violate that blueprint, then our home and our church will be weakened. The husband is to lead his home and men are to lead the church.

How does a woman effectively and honestly pastor a church in the first place when she is unwilling to obey these verses? How can she claim to believe the Bible when she is not practicing these truths? She has lost her credibility to stand up and say, "Thus saith the Lord."

1 Timothy 2:11-14.... Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

1 Timothy 3:1-7.... This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. [2] A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;... [4] One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; [5] (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) [6] Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. [7] Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

The requirement to be a bishop or pastor was that he be a man. Does this mean that a woman cannot teach or speak at all? No, women can have great ministries if they will direct their ministry to other women. That is Scriptural.

Titus 2:3-5... The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; [4] That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [5] To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

A woman, however, who pastors a church or men, is biblically out of bounds.

6. The church is not to tolerate the corruption of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Galatians 1:6-9.... I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

2 John 1:9-11.... Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. [10] If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: [11] For he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Jude 1:3—Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

7. Christians are not to tolerate immorality, greed, idolatry, drunkenness, robbery, or revilement in the life of another Christian

We are to take a stand against this kind of behavior in the lives of those who claim to be believers by breaking fellowship with them until they repent. This kind of behavior hurts the cause of Christ.

1 Corinthians 5:11-13.... But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. [12] For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? [13] But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

8. There are times that God's people are not to tolerate laws that forbid them from worshiping and serving God

All throughout the Bible, we find God's people being commanded by those in authority to keep their mouth shut about the Lord. God's people responded by obeying and honoring God with their lives.

The three Hebrews would not bow to the image and tolerate the command of the king. Daniel did not tolerate the law that forbid praying to the Lord and prayed anyway. The disciples were threatened and forbidden to speak about Jesus, but were not intimidated. Peter and John responded to their threat by saying, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. [20] For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19-20)." They continued to preach and were confronted again.

Acts 5:28-29... Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. [29] Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

9. Christians are not to tolerate fellowship with a believer that will not submit to the authority or discipline of the church

The purpose of church discipline is to restore an erring believer. There are, however, times when a person will not submit to the discipline of the church. In such cases, fellowship will need to be broken, demonstrating to the erring believer that his or her behavior will not be tolerated until he or she repents.

Matthew 18:15-17... Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. [16] But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. [17] And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

When a church expresses intolerance for wicked behavior, it is sometimes accused of being unloving and unkind. People who believe this way do not understand the concept of "tough love."</