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QUESTION: “Should Christians learn to be more tolerant?”
ANSWER: No. “Tolerance” is not the same as “patience” or “longsuffering.”
1) “Tolerance”– David wrote: “Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies” (Psalm 139:21-22). “Sin” is “falling short” of God’s commands, and all people do it, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It was not any sinner David hated, but those whose minds were turned completely away from God. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5). “Tolerance” is not a Christian virtue, but a subtle, evil substitution for “concession.” Jesus said: “He who hates Me hates My Father also” (John 15:23). Should we tolerate hatred of God and Jesus Christ? Sinful minds need opposition. After listing some 23 things that are “not fitting,” Paul wrote, “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:28-32). Jesus condemned “lawyers” whose fathers killed the prophets and Old Testament lawyers “approve” their deeds (Luke 11:47-48). Approval of sin, a.k.a. “toleration,” makes one guilty of sharing in it by encouraging it. Tolerance is aiding and abetting.
2) “Patience”– It is virtue to Christians and has nothing whatever to do with encouraging sin. It is the determination not to be shaken from faith. Paul commended the Thessalonians “among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure” (2Thessalonians 1:4). “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). James explained, because “the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4).
3) “Longsuffering”– Paul asked: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). Longsuffering is allowing the sinner to repent, not because the sin is excused! Christians must act “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2) not to encourage sin, but with appeals for repentance.
Questions & Replies by John T. Polk ll