Dangerous Tolerance

“Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9b).
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).
The people of Bangladesh have a very simple attitude towards food, expressed in the saying, “No chili, no taste.” Their curry is HOT, and any visitor needs to be cautious. Over many years of eating there and in other countries where every recipe calls for hot pepper, I have grown to enjoy it and to have a considerable tolerance, at least as compared to many Americans. It was rather shocking, therefore, a while back when I got a harsh reminder of the power in a pod of pepper.
I was eating a dried hot red pepper with my meal and carelessly picked up some of the seeds which fell on my plate and ate them. They caused me to sneeze, but not wanting to spray food, I covered my mouth and stifled the sneeze, basically “swallowing” it rather than letting it escape. The result was that the pepper actually scorched my throat, almost as if someone had held a flame to the back of my mouth. It took more than a month to heal. I was reminded that the heat in the pepper is not just a flavor ?- it is a real force.
Does that not remind us of sin and temptation? We become accustomed to the worldly temptations surrounding us. Profanity, lewdness, violence, and all forms of immorality are practiced by our neighbors, family, and friends. They are portrayed in our entertainment media and reported as normal by our news agencies. Various special interest groups and commercial entities encourage us to gamble, drink, embrace homosexuality or adultery, and other vices. “Tolerance” has become the greatest virtue. We are continuously bombarded with demands to respect those with different “life-styles” or values. Society endorses sin in almost all its forms, so we too are expected to conform.
Under this constant attack many have decided that they must simply “live and let live.” They don’t have to participate, but it seems fruitless to battle the overwhelming tide of public opinion. However, they may soon find that the offensive just does not offend any more. They go to a movie and do not notice the barrage of profanity. It is just “normal speech.” Gradually, like spicy food, they may even learn to enjoy much that is sinful.
But the power of sin is still there. It may seem harmless, enjoyable, desirable, but the time will come when it will scorch. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Though this warning obviously refers primarily to eternal judgment, it also reminds us that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” There are reasons why God warns us against these behaviors. They are harmful. They will hurt us and others.
This is why we are warned to “abhor that which is evil,” and to “flee from” temptations and sinful things. Constant exposure inevitably leads to tolerance, reduced resistance, and ultimately, to sin. The further we stay from them, the less danger there is of succumbing. Don’t get burned!

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