I only found the word tolerance used once in the Bible. In Romans 2:4 Paul talks about God’s kindness and tolerance toward us, but God’s tolerance is rooted in his love for us. Can we therefore have tolerance toward others if we don’t first love them? I don’t believe so. I believe loving one another produces a much broader connection with our fellow man that will naturally include tolerance. If I don’t care about you, I will have a difficult time tolerating you.
Our society has rejected the foundation of God’s word, and we have decided to use man’s wisdom to solve our relational difficulties. This doesn’t seem to be working. We are told to have tolerance for one another. Tolerance is simply a bandage over the wounds produced by our bigotry and prejudice. All we have really produced is hate. God’s way, to love one another, has a deeper power because his Spirit is there to empower us. Man says to tolerate but offers only the power of the will of man. Our sinful nature is constantly battling against our will. Without God’s help, our ability to tolerate is at best a draw.
Jesus told us to love our neighbor as our self, to love our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-44). Jesus lived out those words. In Romans 5:8 we read, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He loved us and gave himself for us even when we were against him. This kind of love is powerful and proactive. It involves giving ourselves to others. Before we are capable of giving love to others, we first need to receive God’s love. Knowing that we are loved empowers us to give love.
We’ve been teaching tolerance to our children for years without much success. Perhaps we should take a different tack. Let’s start teaching them about God’s way of love. You know it might just make a difference.