Too many times do I hear the words tolerance and acceptance tossed around in casual conversations and heated debates. These are two very different words, yet they are often given the same meaning. We must tolerate others. Accept them. We as Christians are deemed wrong for standing up for ourselves; we are accused of not being tolerant or accepting.
But wait...has anyone actually looked at the meaning of these words? And the implied attitudes?
Tolerate. It can mean accept, but the spirit of this word is to accept something without joy, without happiness, but with an attitude of suffering. Tolerating someone simply means you put up with them. Not an enjoyable prospect.
Accept. To accept someone is to love them as they are- despite their faults. And yes, we all have faults. However, the spirit of this word means to truly care about someone. To love them. To enjoy them.
Does this mean we should be okay with a person's sin? Nope. The adage is true; hate the sin, not the sinner. Don't tolerate the sin. Don't ignore the sin. Don't accept the sin. But love the person with all of your heart. God says that love is more important than anything else. That's some powerful good words right there!
It's not easy to love someone who is blatantly sinning. God says to love, but He never said it would be easy.
It's hard to gently confront those we care about- especially if they aren't Christians themselves. They respond with wagging fingers and clucking tongues, chastening us for being intolerant and unaccepting people. Some even say that if you truly love the person, you have to love everything they do. Yikes!
Accept everything, or accept nothing and tolerate the sin- are those our only choices?
God doesn't think so.
I love a family member. This family member does a lot of things I don't agree with biblically. Do I shun this person? Nope.
Do I keep quiet if this person does something disrespectful concerning God? Nope!
Do I yell and scream and beat them over the head with the Bible? My human nature might want to (a lot, trust me), but the answer is still the same. Nope!
God wants me to speak of Him in love and show this person why it's disrespectful. Talk it out. Pray it up. Make it right. Or make it as right as I can. He does the rest, not me.
Trends can twist the meaning of words. 'Gay' used to mean happy, and 'wicked' used to mean acting evil. 'Ain't' wasn't a word, and now it is. Don't let these trends twist our beliefs into something that doesn't honor God.
Tolerance is not the same as acceptance. Acceptance is not the same as loving everything about someone. God speaks of it in His book.
Now I just need to learn to squash the desire to swat someone upside the head with the Bible. I guess I have a lot more scripture to read!