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  • From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove

What does God say about intolerance?

Merriam-Webster defines intolerance as: “the quality or state of beingunable or unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters orunwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights.” So being intolerant says we are unwilling to grant others equal rights. It says we want to be treated differently, better. Does this attitude not say we want people to respect our opinions and choices, but we are unwilling to accept theirs? Why would we desire to be treated better than anyone else? Where does this attitude come from and where will it lead us? What does God think about it?

Christians who avoid bad behavior are not being intolerant of those who are living it. As a matter of fact, God calls us to love everyone, even those who are not following God’s advice, Jn 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” God has always loved sinners and He calls them to make the choice to sin no more, Jn 8:11, “She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” He even died for them, Jn 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

The truly intolerant people of this world want everyone to approve of the way they are living. They want everyone to live the way they have chosen to live. Christians cannot be lured into calling bad behavior good, Is 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” We are instead called to always be truthful, to love all people, in spite of the evil some are doing. It would be intolerant of God to come down and punish us every time we did something evil, or for Him to ask us to punish others whenever we saw someone following the devil. This is not God’s way. He tells us to let Him do the punishing and judging; God has a plan and everything will work out for good, in the end, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God knows the devil is always using bad behavior to lure us away from God. Let us not be fooled by the devil’s labels.

Intolerance can be identified by a behavior that demonstrates we still harbor bitterness, wrath, and anger. So, are we not then grieving the Holy Spirit? Eph 4:30-32, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” Isn’t grieving the Holy Spirit the only unpardonable sin? Lk 12:10, “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.” It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to God, His righteousness, and His eternal family. It is intolerance, which leads us to ignore the Holy Spirit and God.

Rev 2:2, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” God never asks us to blindly follow someone claiming to be a Christian, He wants us to test them to make sure they are true believers of His Word. He wants us to understand that He is creating His eternal family; it is one body with many members and one Spirit, 1 Cor 12:12-14, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” It is intolerance that breeds divisions and He wants us to avoid these divisions. He asks us to reason with Him and His Word. Reasoning leads us to discuss what we believe, calmly, lovingly, and with a mind open to the possibility we might not have the correct understanding of the subject being discussed. This is how we help each other learn to become member’s of His eternal family, Acts 20:32, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

1 Cor 1:26-27, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” God asks us to love everyone, the intolerance shown in this world is in direct conflict with what God is asking us to do. Are we going to follow men or God? Acts 4:19, “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” God explains why some refuse to follow His Spirit, 1 Cor 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It is because they think it is foolishness.

Lk 19:1-5, “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” Jesus is always ready to abide with us; all we have to do is honestly seek Him, Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Intolerance keeps us from hearing His Word, when His servants try to share it with us, and, thus, we separate ourselves from His grace, Rom 5:2, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” How can we ever walk together, when we are so intolerant we will not even listen to each other with a desire to understand? We must stop separating ourselves, Prov 18:1-3, “Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.” Some of us will choose to separate ourselves from God and His wisdom. We will desire what is in our hearts, more than we will desire the love of God. When this happens, we will show contempt for those following God and we will attempt to bring them dishonor. Today we can see the truth of what God told us twenty-five hundred years ago because it is visible in our own society, if we are willing to honestly discern it, Jer 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Intolerance is one of the problems we are witnessing in our society today and it is not God’s way!

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