Moved With Compassion

Don’t you like short stories?  Wouldn’t you like short sermons, too?  I’ve got some good news for you, we’re going to read only four verses, but there is also some bad news . . . it may not be as short a sermon.  Let’s read Matthew 9:35-38

  • And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
  • But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
  • Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
  • Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Who was it that Jesus was looking at?  The Bible describes those He was looking at in these verses as “the multitudes.”  Lost People.  Multitudes of people who needed Jesus Christ.  Multitudes of people who were lost without Him.

He was “moved with compassion on them.” The Greek word for compassion here is “splagchnizomai” which means “bowel.” It means to feel deeply inside, to have compassion, pity.  It is a feeling of distress towards the ills of others.

Our character quality for this month is Tolerance. The definition in our Gothard materials is, making allowances for those who lack wisdom and maturity, and praying that they will see and follow God’s ways.  It’s very interesting to note that scripture makes a sharp distinction between the amount of tolerance believers are to have toward each other and, toward those who are unbelievers.  In regards to “each other” scripture differentiates between how believers are to express tolerance for new, immature believers, and those who are “older in the faith” who decide to live a life violating God’s standards, or refusing to grow in grace. In regards to unbelievers a believer is to have a greater tolerance for unbelievers than we have for fellow believers.

Paul explains this in the same passage in which he warns believers not to have fellowship with other believers who violate God’s standards.  Look with me at I Corinthians 5:9-13

  • I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
  • Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
  • But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one not to eat.
  • For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
  • But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Paul is differentiating between believers and unbelievers.  Know something missing in most churches today?  Distress for the ills of lost people.  How many unbelievers do we have fellowship with ?!?  How tolerant are we toward the unbelievers and their lifestyle?  When’s the last time we were in distress, grieving for an unbeliever?  Did you ever notice the attitude difference on an unbeliever who cusses, and a believer who does?

Standing in line at a restaurant recently there was a guy with a drink in his hand.  We struck up a conversation and he was drinking and cussing and going on and on about life.  Then he asked me what I do for a living, and I told him I’m a Baptist preacher.  Immediately he – an unbeliever – became embarrassed, apologetic, and even asked for my forgiveness for his cussing and how he’d been behaving!  He even began to explain his “church background.”  I told him, “Hey, brother, don’t worry about that, I used to do that, too.”  I told him that God couldn’t care less about his drinking or cussing.  I said, “the only thing God cares about is, have you ever met His Son, Jesus Christ.  What have you done with His Son?”  We need to look past (be more tolerant of) the unbeliever’s lifestyle and pray that they will come to Jesus.

Sadly, all too often believers in a similar situation become cold, callous and say “nobody’s perfect.”  Pastors are instructed not to preach on “such and such.” That doesn’t sound like God’s kind of Tolerance.

We have a goal of “200 Under the Tent” in March 2003.  Listen, we can organize, prioritize, categorize, and energize, but until we get some “compassionize . . . ing” toward the lost and unchurched folks, we’ll still be running the same number we are today!

Now, let’s get back to our story in Matthew.  Notice what the Holy Spirit led Matthew to write about why Jesus was moved with compassion on the multitudes.  Verse 36 says He was moved with compassion because they (1) “fainted.”  Speaking literally of physically being weary, exhausted, and mentally being despondent.  Do you know any unchurched people like that today?  Then He said they were (2) “scattered abroad.” It means literally to throw or cast, to hurl, scatter, and disperse . . . to be cast forth. Our neighborhoods really reflect this idea.  We used to know our neighbors and help look out for each other.  Nowadays, the garage door goes up, the car drives in and the garage door goes down, and in the morning it happens all over again in reverse.  The people are scattered . . . disconnected. 

Jesus also said He was moved with compassion because they were (3) “as sheep having no shepherd.” I don’t think anything paints the picture and describes “the multitudes” of today any better than Ezekiel 34:5-6, “And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.”  What a picture of today when people are as meat to the beasts of the field and wandering here and there.  They are getting gobbled up by the beasts of the world. They have no direction, no purpose, no meaning and no hope and “none did search or seek after them.”  What a sad story.

Something missing from the church today is an old-fashioned, heart-felt, God-given, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit empowered compassion for the lost and unchurched people.  No church will really have the rich blessings of God until its members get a “burn” in their hearts for lost people.  Believers will not enjoy the hand of God until they get the heart of God.  We’ll not see the power of God until we get the pain of God for the fainted, scattered, shepherd-less that are all around us.

Well, here’s some great news, in the midst of a sad story . . . it’s always that way when Jesus shows up or when Jesus is “lifted up.” In verse 37 of our text, Jesus says, “the harvest truly is plenteous!”  There’s no shortage of a crop!  There are multitudes to reach.  It’s getting bigger and better right in our own backyard.  This is our Jerusalem with hundreds of new houses being built so close by!  Jesus points out there’s only one thing holding back the harvest . . . few laborers . . . too few with His compassion.  Jesus gives us the secret to that problem in verse 38 “pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

So all this begs two questions:

Q#1 – What’s your compassion level for the unchurched?

Q#2 – Have you been praying to the Lord of the harvest for Him to send forth laborers?

Let’s pray.


Tolerance– A Four-Minute Sermon


Contributed by Pastor Lee McDowell
Pastor, Anchor Baptist Church, Houston, Texas

Preached February 17, 2002

Click here for a printable version.

The Power of The Choice

Something that is greatly missed in the whole message of the Gospel is the simple fact that our Lord Jesus Christ chose to leave heaven and come to earth.  He chose to go all the way to the cross for you and for me.  Nobody forced Him to do that, God didn’t force Him.  It was a difficult choice and He wrestled with all that was going on in His life, but He chose to go to the cross for us.  That’s what I want to talk about today . . . choices.  The message is entitled, “The Power of the Choice.”

So often today the person in authority, or an organization who has the responsibility of enforcing the laws of our land are portrayed and seen by many as the “bad guys” when in truth they are doing their job and it is the individual who’s choice has resulted in a negative situation.  For example, if we drive above the speed limit, then we choose to put ourselves in a position to get a ticket.  The officer that pulls us over isn’t the “bad guy.’ God says He put the civil authorities in place – not for those keeping the laws, but the lawless.  The lawless choose to be lawless.  The lawless choose to have to pay the price for that wrong choice.  God doesn’t force us to make the right choices.  This month we are studying the Character Quality of Tolerance.  We have two definitions of Tolerance from our Gothard resources, 1) Realizing that everyone is at varying levels of character development; 2) Making allowances for those who lack wisdom or maturity and praying that they will see and follow God’s ways.

The opposites of tolerance are prejudice and condemnation.  We are to have tolerance for folks, but God says there is a process and God uses that process in us to bring us to the point of maturity.  We’re going to look at an incredible biblical truth today, that enables us to handle people with the same tolerance God does and be able to help them develop character, gain wisdom and maturity and always point to the right person as the “bad guy.”  Not long ago we had the following saying on the marquee in front of our church, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again, and expecting a different result.”  It really is insane to expect a change  — or any different result – if you continue to do the same thing!!!  At some point we must recognize and say, “I need to make a choice to make some changes.  I need to choose to change.”

Every aspect of our relationship with God is based on one thing: Choices.  In Genesis, chapter 3 Eve chose to believe the devil, instead of believing God.  “The devil made me do it” is a lie from the pits of hell.  Eve chose to believe the devil, instead of God.  Later in that same chapter, Adam chose to believe Eve, instead of God.  He told God, “My wife made me do it!”  The fall of mankind is all relative to the power of the choice.

In Genesis chapter 6-9 Noah chose to believe God, even though it had never rained! He endured incredible pressures and harassment.  In 1 Samuel chapter 13 King Saul chose to usurp the priest’s office to go against God, and it cost him his title. 1 Samuel chapter 18 King David (while he was still a shepherd boy) chose to trust God and defy Goliath.  In II Samuel chapter 11 King David (after he became King) chose again . . . only this time to get involved with Bathsheba, kill Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, and God told David through Nathan the prophet that the sword would never leave this house, and that God would raise up evil against David, out of his own house!  “The Power of the Choice.”

In 1 Kings, chapter 3 Solomon chose to pray for wisdom, instead of riches and power and God gave him all three!!!  Judges chapter 14 tells us that Samson chose to desire a Philistine wife . . . Bad Choice!  God had already said, “Don’t do that.”  In Judges chapter 16 Samson loses all because of his bad choice.  In Daniel chapters 1, 3, and 6 we read about the good choices made by Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  They chose to defy the kings.  Great choices in each case.  In the New Testament we read about Matthew, Mark, Luke, Peter, Andrew, James and John (sons of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, the ladies and many others who chose to follow Jesus, and it changed their lives for the better . . . forever.

These all chose to give up “everything,” and they gained “all” the Lord has to offer.  Paul chose Jesus on the road to Damascus and turned from persecutor to proclaimer of the Gospel, and God wrote 13 books of the Bible through Paul!  “The Power of the Choice.”

All throughout Scripture, all throughout history, all throughout our lives it’s all about God giving us a choice.

Now, let me give you three (3) laws about choice, that with their knowledge you can be empowered to become an awesome Christian, an awesome parent, an incredible employee/employer, an incredible Sunday School teacher, or leader.

#1.  The Law of “Never”

God never takes away our choice. God never “forces” us to choose a certain way, or, do a certain thing.  Listen, never is anyone forced to go to hell.  Everyone has a choice.  John 1:12 states, “As many as receive Him” and Acts 2:41 “they that gladly received his words . . .”

Never is anyone forced to be obedient . . .or, disobedient.  We can not excuse disobedience by saying, “the devil made me do it.”  Everyday, every believer, makes choices to believe God, to trust God, to obey God, or to live a life of unbelief, or to live a life of disobedience, but we’re never forced.

Psalm 1:1-3

  • Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
  • But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he mediate day and night.
  • And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

We must know the Word of God to know that the counsel we receive lines up.  Here’s the empowerment of Law #1– The Law of Never: Never force someone else to choose or, to do . . . never take away their choice.

Now hang on, all three laws go together.

#2. The Law of “If

If” . . . that little, 2-letter word is written 1,595 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  I made a printout of all those just to see where the “if” really applied to what we are discussing this morning.  It is really incredible to see how many times God says, “if.”  There are 993 times in the Old Testament (and it seems about 900 of those are in Leviticus!) and 602 times in the New Testament.

Listen, God’s best is always dependent on the “If” . . . and “If” always demands a choice.  Anytime you see “if” in the scripture, you’re going to see opportunity for you and I to make a choice.  God doesn’t force us, He just says, “if . . .  if . . . if . . . if . . . if.”  Then we are at the point of making a choice.  The first time “if” appears in the Bible is in Genesis 4:7 where God is speaking to Cain . . . after Cain brings an offering unacceptable to God. 

Genesis 4:5-7a

  • But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
  • And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
  • If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door . . .”

Remember when you see “if” that means a choice is needed, I’ll read several verses from the printout.

Proverbs 2:1-5

  • My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
  • So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
  • Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
  • If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
  • Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” That’s God’s best!

Malachi 3:10, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  That’s God’s best!

Matthew 16: 24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”  That God’s best!

Matthew 17:20, “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”  That’s God’s best.

Luke 16:11-12, “If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” That’s God’s best.

John 3:12 “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”  That’s God’s best.

John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be; if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”  That’s God’s best.

John 14: 23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”  That’s God’s best.

John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”  That’s God’s best.

Now, don’t miss this . . . the “If” always demands a choice.  And here’s the empowerment of Law #2 — The Law of “If“: a right choice to the “If” leads to God’s best . . . always.  God’s best hinges on the “If.”

OK, we have the Law of “Never.”  God never takes away our choice. God never “forces” us. We should never force anyone.  We should never take away their choice.

Then, we have the Law of “IF.” God’s best is always dependent on the “if.” “If” always demands a choice.  We should constantly be teaching a right choice to the “If” leads to God’s best . . . our best.  Teach this to your children!!!

Here’s where we miss it completely . . .Here’s where we really blow it,

#3.  The Law of “You” (Instead of Me!)

Would you like to take the hair pulling and screaming out of parenting, grand-parenting, Sunday School teaching?  Would you like to take the stress out of any leadership role you have?  Do you think God does any of these?!?  Not at all.

How do most parents discipline?  How do most teachers discipline? How do most leaders lead?  By “force,” and not “choice.”  Remember that’s what we’re talking about today: “The Power of the Choice.”

“Son!  I’m going to (blankety-blank) you, if you don’t so such and such”  “Son, don’t make me have to . . . !”  “How many times do I have to tell you . . . ?!?”  Sound familiar?  These are words used by a threatening, repeating parent, teacher, leader, and employer.  By the way, when are we going to learn that threatening and repeating never brings a positive result?  You know one of the things that is so great about our relationship with God?  He doesn’t threaten, He just says, “If.”

When we become that threatening person it’s a bad choice which usually leads to bad actions on our part such as more yelling and screaming, more threatening, sometimes even to beatings, emotional punishment, harsh embarrassment, and intimidation.  This makes us the “bad guy” instead of the one who is wrong. The parent or the law has become the “bad guy.” It took September 11th for our country to have a different attitude and respect for the law.  Up until that day Police officers were among the least respected groups in our society because we’ve been teaching that they are the “bad guys,”  “What do you mean, I’m doing wrong?  Anything that I decide is OK.  Besides, it wasn’t that bad.”  God says you have a choice and the law of the land says you have a choice and all we want to do is make excuses.

Who’s the “bad guy” if someone dies and goes to hell . . . God, or the lost sinner?  Romans 1:18-22 explains,

  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
  • Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
  • For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
  • Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
  • Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,”

We need to be a part of sending the light but ultimately everyone is getting some light.  Every time you witness to someone they have a choice to make.  Every time we get a truth from God, we have a choice to make.  The Lost Sinner chooses to go to hell.  The lost sinner is the “bad guy.”

Who’s the “bad guy” if someone defies God’s instructions and suffers consequences and chastisement . . . God, or the Sinning Saint?

Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

Hebrews 12:5-8

  • And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, ‘My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of him:
  • For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.’
  • If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
  • But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

The Sinning Saint chooses the chastisement.  The sinning saint is the “bad guy.”  God is a “loving Father.”

Why then, as parents, Sunday School teachers, youth worker, pastors, employers, leaders of any kind are we always the “bad guy” ?!?!?!?!?  Two reasons . . . 1) wrong perspective, “I’ve got to force or persuade them somehow to do what’s right” and 2) wrong emphasis i.e. “Me” responsible, instead of “you” responsible.  What’s the right choice?  Well, here’s the empowerment of Law #3  — Law of “You” instead of “Me”: Always give them the choice . . . just as God does with us.

You’ll love this parents!  You can be calm, cool, “correcting” according to their choices.  Simply say, “I’m sorry you have chosen to . . . ” You don’t have to threaten or get upset. It doesn’t take long before they start making some right choices! 

God says to us “How many times are you going to make a wrong choice?”  So, why do some folks keep defying God?  Two things scripture says about those folks 1) God may not be their Father (Hebrews 12:5);  2) they’re deceived . . . and they think they are “suffering like Job,” instead of themselves.  They don’t recognize chastisement when they see it?  Job was obedient and making all the right choices.  Too often we are making bad choices and because of spiritual pride can’t or won’t see God’s chastisement in our life.

The Law of “Never.”  The Law of “IF.”  The Law of “You” (Instead of “Me”).  The Power of the Choice.

Let’s pray.


Tolerance– A Four-Minute Sermon


Contributed by Pastor Lee McDowell
Pastor, Anchor Baptist Church, Houston, Texas

Preached February 24, 2002

Click here for a printable version.

Our “Differential Allowable”

  1. Introduction: “It’s AMazing How Much “Stuff” She Takes Off Him.”

    If you have ever made that statement, then you have defined TOLERANCE in the language of everyday life. Tolerance is how much room, space or patience is allowed before damage is done to one or both of the mating parts. People are made to live in community, but not being too close or to far apart. Being too close, on the one hand, produces too much friction which produces wear and stress. On the other hand, too much space either does not allow for effective operation or produces too much vibration, resulting in damage and destruction.

  2. Differential Allowable

    Pierre Paroz, a friend of mine who is in the machine tool business, explained tolerance as the acceptable difference between two parts which must fit together and operate in close proximity to each other. If the “differential allowable” is too great either one part will not accept the other or if accepted without the proper “fit”, vibration or friction during operation will, at worst, destroy both parts or, at best, render them ineffective. In machining, tolerance is the perimeter or boundary that makes possible the mating of one part with the other for productivity.

  3. Tolerance A Necessity For Relationship

    Doesn’t the last statement about perimeters and boundaries sound like the same definition of what is necessary for good human relationships? Is there a good fit between you and the other person? If one party’s personality and behavior is too different, a relationship becomes very difficult, if not impossible. In this sphere, tolerance is the allowing of others to coexist with us. Of its very nature, relationship demands a degree of acceptance. If, however, a spirit of exclusiveness dominates our mentality, our degree of tolerance is at once diminished and the “mating, bonding or joining”of an individual or group approaches impossibility.

  4. Perfection, The Enemy Of Tolerance

    Since tolerance might be described as our “differential allowable”, it could also be described as the acceptable margin for error. Does the fit have to be exactly perfect? Perfection makes huge demands. Perfection allows no margin for error. Many a marriage has failed because one or both of the partners demanded perfection, or what he or she perceived as perfection, in the other partner, or in the marriage. The bar was set too high. The couple couldn’t make the hurdle. There was no tolerance available.

  5. The Case for Grace

    Here enters the case for grace. The Bible says that we are to “bear with one another and make allowances because we love one another” (Ephesians 4:2). The word allowance is another way to say tolerance. Grace provides enough space for some margin of error without destroying the fit. We must give others some room for differences. We must forgive the mistakes and give some “wiggle” room and accept less than perfect companions and a less than perfect union in order to have a union, at least in this life.

  6. Tolerance A Feature Of the Lord’s Prayer

    How’s your differential allowance? The Golden rule measures both ways and measures best for those who “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. The greatest prayer ever taught was the Lord’s prayer which instructs us to pray, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. ” Here, Lord. I’ll show you how I want you to forgive me by the way I forgive!” And this same Great Teacher, Jesus, said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy”.

  7. Conclusion

    Tolerance makes living with others possible. It’s the “stuff” of civilization, while intolerance sets up any relationship for failure. It is the “im” in “impossible”. Knock it out with another “Im”, that is “I’m tolerant.” Check out these “I wills”:

    1. I will not confuse what is right with what is popular.
    2. I will expect the same of myself as I expect of others.
    3. I will look for ways to help others mature.
    4. I will accept my own unchangeables and the unchangeables of others.
    5. I will listen before I form an opinion.


Tolerance– A Four-Minute Sermon

Contributed by Clyde C. Miller
Senior Pastor (Retired), First Christian Assembly, Cincinnati, OH

March 1, 2002

Are You Growing In Tolerance?

  1. What is Tolerance?

    Here is a word and quality that is constantly being shouted in our day. It is urged upon us, and we are threatened if we don’t practice it! “Tolerance” is a perfectly legitimate and useful word. The dictionary tells us, in various forms, that it means: “Respect for belief, respect for the behavior of others” – without necessarily sharing or agreeing with them. It means to “To put up with, to bear” – beliefs, behavior or people not liked.

    What does it mean to respect others and their convictions? We quickly acknowledge that this is lacking in so much of our daily living. Everyday we read of violence and trouble because someone does not respect someone else’s opinion. It is part of everyday life for other people to have beliefs and convictions and behavior that are quite different from ours. How do we handle this? On the one hand it does mean it is our responsibility to at least be understanding – although not necessarily in agreement or in support of their position. And it is our responsibility to be forbearing. On the other hand, it surely does not mean the acceptance of evil or wrong doing.

    Sometimes we see on a television program a disclaimer that says: “The views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of this station.” The ability to express views and behavior (within the parameters of decency and normal acceptable behavior) is allowed because of tolerance. Tolerance is a key to enabling relationships and societies to function together.

  2. The Bible Calls For Tolerance

    The word “tolerance” itself does not appear directly in the Bible, but there is clearly a biblical basis for being tolerant. For example, one time the disciples of our Lord asked if they should call down fire from heaven upon people who had not been receptive and kind to Him. He refused. (Luke 9:54.) In the previous verses the disciples tried to stop a man from what they considered inappropriate spiritual ministry and Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

    While the word “tolerance” itself does not appear in the Bible, its elements of forbearance and love do. In the context of tolerance, love and forbearance have wide application. For example, when we are presented with ideas or behavior that differ from ours, love and forbearance may be called for to: control our emotional reactions to irritations, insults and errors; or think through foreign ideas to discern whether the Lord is trying to correct us or prompt us to gently correct them; or bear up under the impact and burden of differing ideas and practices; or kindly and gently correct untruths without quarreling; or forgive or ask forgiveness; or earnestly pray for them; or extend tangible acts of love.

    However!! Do not misunderstand. There is no biblical tolerance for views and opinions that are not in keeping with biblical revelation, such as: “ All roads lead to heaven.” “Different religions and cultures are all equal in God’s sight.” Scripture is not broad enough to contain these. All religions do not lead to God; that’s why He has given us the Revelation of Truth in His Word. I must not deviate from that given standard, even though the world is constantly telling me that to stand firm upon that conviction is intolerant.

    Tolerance is not Moral Indifference!! That is an expression that comes from Elizabeth Elliot Gren who said: “The current popular notion that judging others is in itself a sin leads to such inappropriate maxims as, ‘I’m okay and you’re okay.” It encourages a conspiracy of moral indifference.” (Leadership, Vol. 3, No. 1.)

    While I am to be intolerant of views not in keeping with the Bible, I must be very careful about not being intolerant of people. Scripture says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1) James continues, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor.” (James. 4:12) “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
    (1 Corinthians 10:12) There is a danger in intolerance.

    “Tolerance applies only to persons, never to truth.” (F. J. Sheen, “Old Errors and New Labels”, Christianity Today. Vol. 41, No. 3) “Never let us think evil of men who do not see as we do. From the bottom of our hearts, let us pity them, and let us take them by the hand and spend time and thought over them, and try to lead them to the true light.” (Henry Drummond, “Listening to the Giants”, ed. W.W.Wiersbe, Christianity Today, Vol. 34, No 13)

    Be tolerant. Be understanding. Be loving and kind. But remember, there is an offense of the Cross and it will be noticed. Be sure in our witness and daily living it is the Cross, and not our own personalities or unloving attitudes that become offensive.

  3. Application: Are You Growing In Tolerance?

    Let’s spend these closing moments quietly with the Lord in prayer. In your life, are you growing in tolerance? Are there people in your life with differing views or behavior that you have reacted to unkindly? Hurtfully? Do you need to ask their forgiveness? Are there people in your life holding views or behavior that is displeasing to the Lord? Have you been “loving the sinner while hating the sin”? Would the Lord have you gently share His truths with them? Would He have you demonstrate love to them in some tangible way? Ask the Lord for forgiveness where you have not been forbearing and loving. And ask the Lord to show you steps to take this week to address relationships in which you have not been tolerant. Commit to Him to take these steps with His help. Thank Him for His patience with you, for loving you, and for helping you.


Tolerance– A Four-Minute Sermon

Contributed by Dr. Paul E. Toms
Senior Pastor (Retired), Park Street Church, Boston, MA

February 16, 2002

This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.