Definition: Willingness or ability to accept the views, beliefs, practices, etc., of others that differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry (bias, discrimination) or prejudice. In the Bible, long-suffering, patience, and forbearance are all closely related to tolerance of others.
1. Being tolerant means being loving and considerate of others who differ from us.
* Matthew 5:43-47 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?
* Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. [See also Psalm 34:14.]
* Romans 14:2-6 [Paul’s teachings on tolerance:] For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. [There are times when we need to simply “agree to disagree” on smaller matters.] 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
* 1 Corinthians 3:1-5 [Being intolerant of the differences of others can reveal a lack of maturity.] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
* Philippians 3:15 [With some differences of opinion, sometimes we just need to let the Lord show others whether they are right or wrong.] Let us therefore, as many as be perfect [mature], be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
* 1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
* Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
2. Being tolerant means being patient and forgiving of others’ errors.
* Matthew 18:21,22 Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
* Luke 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
* Romans 15:5 [Being mindful of God’s patience with our errors and sins helps us be tolerant of others.] Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.
* 1 Corinthians 13:4a,7 Charity suffereth long, and is kind. … 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
* 2 Corinthians 6:4,6 [Good leaders possess great patience and tolerance of others.] But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, … 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned [sincere].
* Ephesians 4:1b,2 Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.
* Colossians 3:12,13 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
3. Being tolerant means being understanding with those who are weaker.
* Romans 14:1 [We are encouraged to tolerate the weaknesses of one another, except when it comes to speaking doubt and sowing discord.] Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. [See also Job 4:3,4.]
* Romans 15:1,2 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
* Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
* 1 Corinthians 10:23,24 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth [well-being].
4. To be winsome with others, dwell on points of agreement and things you have in common.
* Luke 9:49,50 [Jesus emphasized the positive:] And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
* Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
* 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 [Paul was adaptable, relating himself to people on their level, rather than expecting them to adapt to him. In this way he was able to win many to Christ who otherwise wouldn’t have listened.] For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
* Ephesians 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
* Philippians 1:15-18 [Paul showed great tolerance with other Christians, some of whom even opposed him:] Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, [in selfish ambition] not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18 What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
* Philippians 4:8 [Looking for the good in others helps us to be tolerant of their weaknesses and faults.] Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
5. The Lord expects us to be tolerant, as we appreciate the tolerance of others.
* Leviticus 19:34a [Tolerance comes from putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.] But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
* Matthew 7:2-5 [If we’re self-righteous and intolerant of others in judging them, we’re committing an even worse sin.] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
* Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
* Luke 6:31-33 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same.
6. You shouldn’t be tolerant of evil or deliberate wrongdoing.
* Genesis 6:3a [Continual disobedience and rebellion will eventually bring on the Lord’s retribution.] And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man.
* Nehemiah 13:28 [Nehemiah expelled from fellowship a compromising traitor who, though the son of the high priest, intermarried with the daughter of Israel’s then arch-enemy, Sanballat:] And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.
* Psalm 101:3b-5 [King David vows to God that he won’t tolerate or compromise with backslidden troublemakers:] I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. 4 A froward [perverse] heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. 5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
* Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
* Isaiah 42:14 [God is very slow to anger, but when judgment finally comes, it is very thorough and swift.] I have long time holden My peace; I have been still, and refrained Myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.
* Isaiah 63:9,10 [The Lord first shows compassion and great understanding, but if we continually choose to rebel against His Spirit, we can expect to be punished.] In all their affliction He [God] was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old. 10 But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.
* Proverbs 22:10 [There comes a time when you need to rid the barrel of its rotten apples.] Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
* Matthew 18:15-17 [Jesus’ clear-cut guideline for disciplining wrongdoing among the brethren:] Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
* Romans 16:17 [Paul warns use not to co-exist with those who continually cause divisions among brethren.] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
* Matthew 4:9-11 [Don’t listen to or tolerate the Devil:] And [the Devil] saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the Devil leaveth Him.
* Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the Devil.
* 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14,15 [Serious problems warrant excommunication, but such cases should still be treated with brotherly love.] Now we command you, brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. … And if any man obey not our word by this Epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. [See also 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:5.]
* Revelation 2:21,22 And I [Jesus] gave her [the errant church of Thyatira] space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit [spiritual] adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
7. God shows supernatural love, patience and tolerance with us. We should do the same with others.
* 2 Chronicles 7:14 If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
* Psalm 86:15 But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
* Psalm 103:8-10 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will He keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
* Isaiah 48:9 For My name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for My praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
* Acts 17:30 [God’s tolerance also depends on our accountability.] And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
* Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
* Romans 5:8 But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
* 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
8. Being tolerant and striving to keep the peace brings on blessings and happiness.
* Proverbs 12:20b To the counsellors of peace is joy.
* Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.
* Colossians 1:11 [Be] strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.
* Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
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