Study 10 - You Tolerate
Jesus said, ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away … And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away’ (Matt. 5:29, 30). We mustn’t tolerate sin – but we often do.
You tolerate what you say
‘What about your swearing habit?’ Jesus would ask some Christians. You reply, ‘Oh, that’s just me. Sometimes I lose my temper. I suppose I’ll get to grips with it one day.’ You excuse yourself so easily, but where’s your conscience? How can you continue to go to meetings and sing the praises of Jesus with the same mouth you use to curse those whom he loves?
‘What about your gossip?’ he would ask others. You say, ‘Well, that’s just me. I don’t mean any harm.’ But whether you mean harm or not, God isn’t honoured by your conversation. He isn’t blessed by hearing you tear someone’s life to shreds with your words. He has something against you.
You tolerate what you see
You shouldn’t be watching some of those television programmes or websites, or reading those suggestive books and magazines. You’re looking at the wrong sort of pictures. You know it’s wrong, yet you tolerate it.
You tolerate what you touch
When you fail to be ruthless in dealing with these issues they begin to undermine your Christian standards. Fantasy gives way to action.
Jesus is saying to many Christian young couples, ‘I have something against you.’ You’re tolerating the things that you’re doing with your hands when no one’s looking. You’re going too far. You’ve allowed the spirit of this age to creep into your relationship before you’re married. Recognise who you are. Stop compromising. Set your hearts on purity.
You tolerate wrong relationships
Some believers are flirting outside marriage. ‘My marriage isn’t what it used to be,’ they say. ‘That man, that woman was very sensitive to me. We get on well together.’ You’re not being clear-cut. You’re not saying, ‘None of that.’ You’re tolerating it, enjoying the attention and fantasising about a relationship which is acceptable to society but forbidden by Scripture.
Families are falling apart because married couples are tolerating second best. ‘Our relationship is not where it should be,’ they say. ‘The spark disappeared ages ago. We don’t love each other any more and we’ve given up trying to fan the flame. Other people are in the same boat. We’re content just to survive for the sake of the children.’
But isn’t Christian marriage meant to reflect the beautiful and intimate relationship between Christ and the church? If you’re having difficulties, shouldn’t you be on your faces before God, pleading for his help? Shouldn’t you be seeking the counsel of others? Shouldn’t you be humbling yourselves, repenting and battling with all your hearts to get your marriage back on track?
You tolerate your weekday conduct
There are Christians who cheat in their place of work – bosses who run their businesses poorly and employees who are lax about their timekeeping and casual about their output. They’re not necessarily evil; they may not be plotters of wickedness as Jezebel was. But, like Ahab, they tolerate compromise and turn a blind eye.
You tolerate things in your church
‘If we touch that situation, it will blow up in our faces,’ say some church leaders who are caught in a predicament. ‘We daren’t stop him from doing that. There’d be an almighty uproar. Let’s keep quiet and hope that something changes.’ So nothing’s said, and the longer the silence reigns, the further the church drifts.
You tolerate things in your nation
‘Church,’ says Jesus, ‘I have this against you. You’re tolerating things in your nation. Like weak, uncommitted Ahab, you’re allowing the tide to carry you along. I want you to turn and confront wickedness, to speak against it, to be strong by my grace and stop the waves of evil from eroding your lives.’
What are you tolerating?
Jesus would say to many Christians today, ‘I love you. I’m with you. I want you to reflect my glory – but I have something against you. You’re tolerating things that my Word forbids.’ How far will you go to establish righteousness in your life? To what extent do you want God to bless and use you?
‘Seize the prophets of Baal,’ said Elijah. ‘Don’t let anyone get away!’ then he slaughtered them all. He was radical. He showed no mercy. He wouldn’t tolerate anything that compromised the high standards of God. He did what God had wanted the Israelites to do centuries before.
Like the Israelites, you may have been tolerating things for a long time. You may have repeatedly heard God’s warning, but have never really come to the point of confession, repentance and forgiveness. Now is the time to be radical. Now is the time to refuse the things you’ve tolerated. Now is the time to get straight with God.
‘Tolerance is not a spiritual gift; it is the distinguishing mark of postmodernism; and sadly, it has permeated the very fibre of Christianity. Why is it that those who have no biblical convictions or theology to govern and direct their actions are tolerated and the standard or truth of God's Word rightly divided and applied is dismissed as extreme opinion or legalism?’
John Stott, Corporate Worship for the Church? Chevrolet and the Word of God, an Open Letter to the CCM Community.