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In today’s society, tolerance seems to be a real buzzword. On one side of the issue, people proclaim that we should be tolerant of all people, all religions, and all things. The flip side says that we should not tolerate anyone, any other religions or any thing else. Tolerance has become a dividing point in society- even within the religious community. In the Christian faith, we find many divisions on tolerance.

I’ve struggled myself at times with my ideas of what is tolerable and what is not. How much do I tolerate and when do I not tolerate? It’s an important issue in our lives. Our tolerance affects our relationships both close and far.

Is it not true that whatever God tolerates, I should tolerate also? And what He doesn’t tolerate, should I not tolerate? I believe this is true, however, I also need to remember that God sees the inner man and I do not. The only inner man I see is my own. Therefore, God can judge the heart of others justly and I cannot.

So when dealing with the heart, I cannot judge. That’s why we find scripture such as this…

Romans 2:
1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

Some may argue with me that this should assure us that we should tolerate all people. Some would say that we can’t judge others and therefore must tolerate all things. But I don’t completely buy that. What God’s word says is that we cannot judge the heart. There are many other scriptures that take an extremely judgmental view…

Revelation 2:
2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

There are situations when people are not to be tolerated and God finds that honorable.

So what’s the difference and how should I define my tolerance of others? What do I tolerate and what do I not tolerate?

I believe it comes down to a simple solution. I believe it is a godly solution for God is both tolerant and intolerant. Here is how I view God’s tolerance and this is the model I believe we should use likewise:

I should tolerate everyone’s heart. I should not tolerate everyone’s ideas.

God sees us as clay, as changeable, moldable. But ideas are constant, unchangeable. Ideas are either truth or not truth. People’s hearts can believe in something false and later discover truth.

You and I should be tolerable of people, but not tolerable of all their ideas. I can tolerate someone in love and disagree with him or her on their ideas at the same time.

Jesus Christ tolerated many wicked people – prostitutes, cheating tax collectors, and even the demon possessed. But Jesus never tolerated ideas that were not of God. He blatantly denounced the ideas of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

In our world there are many ideas about God, about religion. I encourage you to find resolve and be intolerant to ideas that are not of God.

At the same time, I encourage you to be tolerant of people’s hearts. See them like God sees – as someone who God can change through truth, love and patience.

Remember that God tolerated you and I. In the same way, we should tolerate others. Yet God still does not tolerate the ungodly things in our lives. We shouldn’t either.

This article is written by Randy Hunt from

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