The Lie of Tolerance—Tolerance or Acceptance?
Acceptance is a beautiful thing—but what about tolerance? How do we handle unbiblical standards in the church today? The word tolerance is used a lot today, but what are we tolerating? And what are we not tolerating? The lie of tolerance is revealed in its fruit.
Paul reveals the need to address issues in the church. He did not back down from issues due to political correctness. If we do not uphold a biblical standard, we do not have one. In the end, friends, tolerate differences, but not sin. Accept people as Christ accepted us, but don’t accept what God’s word does not condone.
Guard the influences in your life. Live what you defend. Stumbling blocks have to be addressed or we will trip over them ourselves. And our tolerance of sin does not equate to God’s acceptance.
The Lie of Tolerance—Under Whose Authority?
In the world we understand that the Bible is not their authority. Our expectations for the world cannot be the same as in the church. But in the church, we need to have the Bible as our authority. Even seemingly good things – church tradition, admired leaders – do not trump the paramount importance of God’s word leading us and setting the standard for how we are to live.
The church is to be the light of the world, not an extension of it. If the church is not aligning itself with God’s word, it will be a puppet of the devil and fall away.
In the end, we will not be held accountable by the world on popularity or how we fit in. that will not last the sands of time. But we will be held accountable by God—the One Who gets the final say and sets the standard. Period.
People come and go and worldly influences will try to penetrate our lives and our churches. What should be our response? I don’t have authority over God’s word. But His word has authority over all of creation. And every knee will bow before Him.
Bible Reading: Acts 15-16
“Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 After Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, Paul and Barnabas and some others were appointed to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem about this issue. 3 When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they brought great joy to all the brothers and sisters.
4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
The Lie of Tolerance—Influencers
So How Do We Deal with Unbiblical Standards? Paul and Barnabas did not shy back from the ungodly influence that invaded their church and differed from God’s standard. Stumbling blocks have to be addressed or we will trip over them. And sometimes those stumbling blocks to a Biblical foundation are within the church itself. Paul and Barnabas addressed unbiblical influencers in debate and then set to task propagating the truth.
Influencers. Guard the influences in your life. Like a mantra, I shared with my kids the necessity and importance of this.
1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
The Lie of Tolerance—Religion
These men who came down from Judea in Acts 15 to stir the pot must have thought they were “in the know”. They thought they could impose religious hoops for people to jump through to be saved. But even when something sounds good to our religious flesh, if it is not backed up by God’s word, it is filthy rags as it says in
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”
The Lie of Tolerance—Pride
We cannot win people to the Kingdom of God with pride. Our attitude should be like Christ, as in Philippians 2:5-7
“5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Christ humbled Himself! So should we! Self-righteousness is a plague when we think we have the truth in and of ourselves. No one is good, no not one. Christ alone is. And we were grafted in and included. We belong. May we always remember our humble stance as we seek to help others see. How is it that we see? God’s mercy and grace and incredible kindness.
The Lie of Tolerance—Debate
Debate. We have to be willing to have conversations. Sometimes hard ones. But how we communicate is crucial. And we have to live what we defend. Otherwise, the world is confused. We are not to be like the world and our weapons should be used to redeem and help people see, not to tear them down.
In can be uncomfortable to have a different opinion. But we need to fear God more than man. And we must prove faithful. Let’s love people while we help to dissolve the unbiblical narrative they have subscribed to. Let’s lovingly point them to God’s truth and humbly admit that we are flawed, ourselves.
Paul and Barnabas’ defense of the truth brought genuine joy in those who listened. They did not respond to shaming or intolerance by caving to the world. They stood firm and shared the truth and gave hope and joy as they clarified the muddy waters.
What does your church say? Does it acknowledge your need to be saved? Does it add or subtract from God’s standards? How about us? Do we have extra rules that we impose?
The Lie of Tolerance—Reaching the Intolerant World
The world preaches tolerance but is intolerant of Christian standards and beliefs. They feel that Christians are intolerant perhaps because they think differently and uphold a standard that is polar opposite of the world. Christians should not tolerate worldliness. But how we encounter worldliness will bear fruit in our lives and those who watch us.
Likewise, what we tolerate affects the faithfulness of our walk with God. We can tolerate sin in our lives, as well, not wanting to seem judgmental. But God never tolerates sin.
And our tolerance of sin does not equate to God’s acceptance.
On the world stage, we should not expect the world to have biblical standards. But that does not mean we should be silent on God’s way for man. But we will need to be wise. The world does not speak “Christianese”.
The Lie of Tolerance—Be Wise About the Battle
Be wise about the battle, friends. The Holy Spirit will reveal who has ears to hear and who doesn’t. Speak truth with grace and let God take care of the results. But speak when He says to speak and pray when He says to pray.
The fruit of our lives and our church will be obvious. Paul’s ministry bore fruit, not religion or rules – as he shared the truth.
And salvation rang in the lives of many. In Lydia, in a fortune teller, and in a jailer. One was a wealthy woman who likely did not see her need. Another was a tool of Satan who was set free. And The jailer had just secured Paul’s punishment but had a radical transformation as Paul lived out the message He spoke with humility.
Scripture of the Day: Acts 16:34
“34 He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.”
Friends, what we tolerate could keep someone from seeing Jesus. Boldly live out God’s word in such a compelling way like Paul did, that no one stumbles on their way to meet Jesus.
- What are you tolerating in your life?
- Examine your tolerances through a Biblical lens and ask God for the Biblical standard in your life.
- In the end, friends, tolerate differences, but not sin.
𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.
Day #321: Acts 15-16
𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Acts 16:34
“He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.”
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