Videographer Kevin Colvin continued our daily theme of “God Fits My Tolerance” as he taught each group of campers this morning. He began by asking: What is tolerance? Tolerate (verb) is to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of someone. Tolerance (noun) is the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own; sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult, especially with repeated use or exposure.
In Revelation 2:2, we read: “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false.” In this verse, tolerate can be defined as “to bear what is burdensome.” We see in Hebrews 12:1-3, when running our spiritual race, we must “lay aside every encumberance and the sin which so easily entangles us…” “…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” If you are running a race, you are not going to wear a backpack of bricks on your back because this would be an encumberance which would slow you down and/or prevent you from completing the race. The Hebrew writer continues in verses 12-15 that we must “strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble” and “see to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.”
In Revelation 2:20, the Lord was displeased with the church at Thyatira because they tolerated Jezebel, which led His bondservants astray. In this passage, tolerate means “to let go; give up a debt; or forgive.” This same thought is found in Matthew 6:12 where we are instructed to pray: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Continuing in verse 14, we see that “if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” What, or who, should we forgive? All the wrongs against us. Who can tolerate (forgive) our sins? God! “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6). Always remember that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Another form of the word tolerate is to allow or endure. In the parable of the tares in Matthew 13, we see that when the enemy came in and sowed tares among the good seed, he said, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn” (v. 30). God is tolerant in the fact that He allows the wicked to live among the righteous, but on the day of judgment, the wicked will be separated from the righteous. In Matthew 15:13,14, Jesus told His disciples, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” God is tolerant to let the blind, or the sinner, to lead the blind, but the blind man’s poor judgment will not prevent him from falling into the ditch. God allows each of us to make our own decisions, but we will be judged for those decisions.
God is tolerant and patient by giving us time to repent of our sins and be saved–He refrains from the enforcement of something that is due. Romans 2:4 tells us: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).
The last form of tolerance Kevin spoke about was to sustain; to bear; to endure. In Ephesians 4:1-5, Paul urged the Ephesians “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We must be tolerant of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We aren’t always going to agree on everything, but we must have unity in the Lord. We should uphold and help our fellow Christians. Galatians 6:1-5 tells us “if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…bear one another’s burdens.” We must help each other run the race, be patient and love one another, work together for unity, help bear one another’s burdens, and restore one when he/she strays from God. Although we are all running the race together, we must each finish our own race and must beware not to let tolerance bog us down so that we don’t finish our own race.