Love, tolerance, and truth

The word love is used and abused all over the place. It is portrayed as a feeling, mostly. I love tacos because they make my mouth happy. Or I love my kids because they make my heart happy. Or I love my husband because he cares for me. It’s all about how other people or things make me feel. But what about when my kids drive me bonkers? Or my husband frustrates me? Luckily, tacos are just always good, so we can continue to love them, but it’s not that simple for people. Do we stop loving people when they irritate us and then start again when they make us feel good?

Obviously, we make choices to continue to love people close to us all the time, even when they drive us bonkers. So that means love is not just a feeling, but a choice or an act of the will. We choose to love even when it’s inconvenient, or uncomfortable, or annoying. And yes, that means it may cost us something (obviously, within reason! Love has boundaries. If someone we love abuses us, no one would expect that person to stay there and continue to get abused). According to 1 Cor. 13:4 – 8, the biblical definition of love is:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…

God’s Word also teaches us to love not only those around us (i.e. family and close friends) but those in our general sphere of influence (i.e. others): “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8). But what does that look like on a day to day basis? What does that even mean??

I spoke briefly about tolerance in a recent FB live (I promise this relates to love! Just humor me, please). Tolerance has traditionally meant to essentially respect someone else’s opinion that you disagree with. However, the contemporary definition is that you must accept and agree with someone else’s opinion, whether or not you yourself do/accept “whatever it is” that is being spoken about. And if you disagree, you’re intolerant and therefore unloving. So for example, abortion. If I say: “Abortion is wrong,” I’m being insensitive and intolerant, no matter what the circumstances may be. But if I say “If you’d like to have an abortion, that’s OK. I understand. I choose not to but you can choose to do whatever you want.” Well, that’s tolerant and by implication, loving. But the thing is, that is NOT tolerance, it is acquiescence at best and assent at worse. And it’s certainly not loving, according to the biblical definition (for example, abortion is unjust or dishonoring toward the life of the unborn).

What’s the biblical thing to do in difficult situations like the one above (we have a plethora of topics similar in their polarizing effects in our society, would you agree?)? It would be to lovingly share Truth and tolerate someone else’s opinion. Not hate them. Not cancel them. Not disrespect them. But to share biblical Truth based on God’s Word and objective truth. Holding to biblical convictions should never be optional for Believers. Of course, having biblical compassion and grace is also incredibly important, but it wouldn’t be loving to compromise on Scriptural teaching.

Unfortunately, the church has remained silent on many things that we should have spoken out against (or for) because we have wanted to come across as selflessly loving and perceived as tolerant (sidenote – there is wisdom in staying silent sometimes (Prov. 17:28), but I’m referring to times when we should obviously speak and we choose not to); but in reality, we’ve only selfishly wanted to be liked by the world and have acquiesced. Sadly, many of us tell ourselves we’re being tolerant and loving. And by “the church”, I realize I’m a part of the church and am just as guilty as the entire Body of Christ. I want to be liked too and I admit that I have often acquiesced instead of speaking truth for the sake of avoiding conflict. But we should all want to please and honor Jesus more than avoiding conflict and uncomfortable situations. In the middle of everyday life, it’s hard to see that, but wow, acquiescence with the world has been a problem for a while and has now exploded to what we see daily in the news. My truth. My life experience. My body. My choice. This is the mess we are currently in. Again, we have chosen to be liked by the world rather than obedient to our Father.

We need to love the people around us by speaking truth, whether or not that’s perceived as tolerant. To be loving is to be truthful. Love is not based on feelings but on facts. Love is not subjective but objective. LORD I pray that the Church wakes up to this fact! We are losing our country and our freedoms right before our eyes as the “silent majority” keeps doing what we’re awesome at – staying silent.

We are not called to be silent and fearful! Have we forgotten what it says in Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I pray we remember that our God has not changed and will never change. We may not be the Israelites, but praise the LORD, it doesn’t matter. If God can raise up rocks to praise Him, I think He can use us too for such a time as this. Rise up, Church. Be loving and boldly tolerant. And stand for Truth without fear.

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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