Intolerant love

Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus gave this command to his disciples.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
John 13:34

In order to carry out this command we must take a look at how Jesus loves us.  There are two places where he describes his love.

The first one is well known.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

Jesus showed his love for us by giving his life so that our sins could be forgiven; we must be willing to sacrifice our lives for other Christians if it is necessary.  Very few of us will ever be in a situation where we need to literally give our lives but if we are willing to do so then we shouldn’t hesitate to make lesser sacrifices such as time, work, and possessions.

There is another description of his love which is often over looked.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
Revelation 3:19

If we are to love as he loves there are times when we too must reprove and discipline.  The Bible gives us two examples of when to do this.

The first is found in the letter to the church of Thyatira.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.   
Revelation 2:20

We must not tolerate false teaching.

The second is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
1 Corinthians 5:1

We must not tolerate sin.

We live in a society in which tolerance is considered the supreme virtue.  Tolerance and love are often regarded as synonymous.  The fact that Jesus commanded his followers to love but here reproves them for tolerance shows that love and tolerance are very different.

Tolerance is passive.  It allows people to live as they wish without imposing restrictions on them.  Love is active.  It requires that our treatment of others should be motivated by their welfare.

Most of the time loving others also means being tolerant.  Sometimes God commands tolerance.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Romans 14:1-9

But when a Christian sins or teaches things that contradict the Bible we must choose whether to respond with tolerance or with love.  We can’t do both.

Tolerance is a virtue only as long as it is guided and controlled by love.  Tolerance without love can easily become indifference.  We can end up allowing people to live any way they want because we don’t really care what happens to them.

Everyone knows that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  Very few realize that the road to Hell is also paved with tolerance.

Posted on January 16, 2014, in Bible study and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Intolerant love.

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