Tolerance

by Christine Berglund

“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:24 NASB).

This was said to man, but there are a few plants that seem to have overheard the command and thought it was meant for them. One of these is the delicious and lovely Garlic Chive.

Grown in thick clumps, they produce even more plants from the abundant seeds that follow the pretty white flowers. Their deep, bulbous roots are hard to remove, and they spring up everywhere the seed drops. They use up precious water and soil nutrients, and crowd out my flowers.

Recently I was given a tip on controlling the invasive plant; that is, by eating the attractive white blooms in salads. I haven’t tried that method yet, but I did make an effort to remove the seed heads before they dropped their plentiful black seeds.

Now all that remains to decide is whether I want to tolerate the presence of this useful but annoyingly prolific plant in my garden.

In considering this, I discovered a useful lesson about tolerance. We all have friends, neighbors, and coworkers with annoying habits or even downright sinful lifestyles.

We don’t necessarily banish them from our lives. However, we do not encourage their offensive actions. We must minimize any hurt they cause to others, without being purposely hurtful to those people who cause the problem.

There is so much talk about differing “values systems” in our culture. Those who are respectful of the Bible as a guide to life obviously have a different value on certain actions and attitudes than those who claim that one’s own self-worth is the greatest attainment.

It is a little ironic that we use the word values to describe an individual’s outlook and attitudes. Some of these “values” have no value to them at all.

Black Friday shoppers who would trample another person to get an item on sale appear to put a high “value” on saving money, but no worth on a human life. That is not a “value.” It is certainly not one that we should tolerate. It indicates a total inability to recognize value at all.

We respect people for being made in the image of God, but respect cannot be automatically applied to their belief systems when they are actually valueless. We may not have to verbally attack or destroy them at every turn, but we surely do not have to hold them up as equal to God’s values.

Sinful lifestyles, even if accepted in society, are certainly not the same in value as God’s clear plan. We sometimes forget this in our rush to appear tolerant.

Garlic chives are not the same in value as a Fritillaria Persica, for instance. They are not nearly as pretty, and certainly didn’t cost as much. If one crowds the other, I will choose the more valuable Fritillaria.

Just because I allow my Garlic Chives to occupy a spot in my herb garden does not mean they are equal in value to the other plants. Their usefulness does not blind me to the fact that their invasiveness can be destructive to neighboring plants. Tolerance of diverse opinions around me does not, similarly, mean that I will embrace them.

“Live and let live” may be a good motto for those who over-value tolerance, but when the plants that we “let live” do not let the others live, it is time for tough choices and serious weeding implements.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). The right way is better.

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