Would the person who knows you best in the world describe you as tolerant? That person is you by the way! Maybe there’s a mixed view among others who know you. Perhaps there are some things you do tolerate and others that you simply do not. We tend to be more tolerant with our own weaknesses than those of others. If you were a Bird of Paradise flower, Banana plant or Rubber tree, the chances are that you would not tolerate life in a temperate climate but would require the tropical temperatures provided by a hothouse! When you think about it, much of life is about discovering the tolerances of materials and of people. Metal is tested to its breaking point and fluids are tested for flash points. This is how we learn and can set safety standards. What about you? Do you know your breaking point and flash points for your own safety?!
- ‘The highest result of education is tolerance’ - Helen Keller
- ‘Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others’ - John F Kennedy
- ‘Tolerance always has limits - it cannot tolerate what is itself actively intolerant’ - Sidney Hook
- ‘Our uniqueness, our individuality, and our life experience mould us into fascinating beings. I hope we can embrace that. I pray we may all challenge ourselves to delve into the deepest resources of our hearts to cultivate an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and compassion. We are all in this life together’ - Linda Thompson
Many people suffer with food intolerances which can be debilitating and even life-threatening. Symptoms can be nausea, stomach pain, rashes and swelling. Whilst it is not always easy to identify the cause, the human body has very useful in-built safety features to flag up allergies and scientists have helpfully developed anti-allergen medicines. Adverse reactions often lead back to dairy, nut, gluten and caffeine products - they seem to be more common this century which raises questions about methods of food production and chemicals used. Sadly, intolerances between people and within societies are all-too-common. Whilst relatively easy to recognise, they are harder to rectify. An intolerant person is likely to be arrogant, self-righteous, difficult to share a home with, angry and given to violence in thought or deed. An intolerant society can give rise to apartheid, Nazism and the use of force sparking many conflicts and wars. On the other side, a tolerant person or society is in danger of being exploited and overtaken, so just how should we live?
- ‘No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money’ - Matthew 6:24
- ‘Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ - Matthew 7:1-2
- ‘You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven’ - Matthew 5:43-45
- ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ - Ephesians 4:32
It seems that we should be tolerant of others which is an argument for diversity and free speech even though this may be abused. Conversely, we are not to tolerate the thought patterns, speech or behaviour that we had before we came to ‘take up the cross’ and follow Christ. Jesus calls us to radical change that we may be ‘salt and light’ to others. The Apostle Paul puts it this way as we live this new life: ‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life’ (Philippians 2:14-15). Have you changed in how tolerant you are to others? Are you more or less tolerant to your own thoughts, speech and behaviour than when you first trusted in Christ?
If you look carefully at the attributes of God, remarkably you will find both intolerance and tolerance. Sin is abhorrent to God and cannot be tolerated in the presence of his holiness. This is the reason that the most costly extreme measure to remove our sin through Jesus’ death on the cross was vital so that we could once again approach God not in our own righteousness but in that of Jesus. The faithfulness of God is such that he will not abandon those who turn to him: ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’ - Lamentations 3:22-23
Consider these things when you find something that really winds you up in another person’s speech or behaviour. Maybe when you see plants in a greenhouse, they could remind you about tolerance and intolerance! If everyone was intolerant of their own wrong behaviour and tolerant towards others, it would be the end of conflict and a new reign of peace - may that be the reign you live within so that it inspires those around you to seek it too.
TAGS - cruelty, danger, mercy, grace, polarities, steadfast