We often hear the battle cry in the news and in social circles today that we are to be tolerant. We must tolerate this person or that one who is different from us. But is tolerance a good thing? Well, that depends on just what it is you are tolerating. If a person is doing something contrary to God’s will we should love that person but we should not tolerate their sin. But isn’t that contradictory you might ask? No. If you are a parent and you have told your child to not do something but the child does it anyway do you just turn your head the other way and let the child do as he or she wishes? No. A good parent will discipline their child because they love that child and have their best interests at heart. In other words, the parent is intolerant of the bad behavior but still loves the child. Through discipline and instruction the child will learn to do what is right. In the same way, Christians should be intolerant of sin but still love the sinner.
Take for example the lifestyle of homosexuality. Homosexuality is a sin (I Cor. 6:9-10) and as such it should not be tolerated. That does not mean we turn our backs on homosexuals or hate them. It means we should show love towards them and admonish them in love and kindness to turn from that sin.
Some would accuse me of judging others and judgment is for God. Judgment IS for God to do, and he has given us the Bible so that we might know those things for which we will be judged or condemned. As Christians we must share that knowledge and when it illuminates sin it is God who is doing the illuminating, showing us by his word what is sin and what is not. Most people will quote Matthew 7:1 which says “Judge not, that ye be not judged” but they stop there. Still later in the same chapter Jesus instructs Christians to “Beware of false prophets” (vs. 15) and still later that we will know evil by their fruits (vs. 17-20). How are we to discern false prophets and evil fruit unless we have the ability to recognize them and point them out?
As Christians we must stand firm against sin. We must be intolerant of sin, yet we must tolerate the sinner in is as much as we are commanded to love them and try to illuminate that which is wrong.