Daily Devotional

Tolerance, the Counterfeit Love

by Simon Whitton

19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

Revelation 2:19-23 (NIV)

This is part of the letter written to the Church in Thyatira. It appears this church had a genuine strength in its ability to love; and consistent with loving, constructive criticism, the Lord points out this strength before moving on to where they'd failed. As with many of us, our strengths can also be our weaknesses.

His concern is that they had been practicing 'tolerance'.  This is interesting because 'tolerance' is often closely associated with 'love'.  The lines between them are not always clear.  Yet here the Lord clearly distinguishes between 'love' and 'tolerance'.  He commends their love, but condemns their tolerance.

In today's western world, tolerance is considered to be a noble attribute.  To be accused of intolerance is a very serious accusation indeed.  As Christians, we are under a lot of pressure to be tolerant, particularly in the area of sexual immorality.  Interestingly, the Lord challenged the Thyatira church on this same issue of tolerance toward sexual immorality.

Tolerance seems attractive because it resembles Christian love.  It has qualities like: not judging others, forgiveness, patience, kindness, avoiding criticism, not keeping a record of wrongs.  But like any good counterfeit, it may look like genuine Christian love, but it's not.  There are a few important ingredients missing, like truth, accountability, concern for others, and putting them before yourself.

Tolerance is all about 'live and let live' or 'do what thou wilt', it's a licentious attitude.  It's easy to be tolerant, it makes you look like you care because of your acceptance and approval, but in reality it shows no concern for the person or their soul.

Love has concern for the other person.  It knows that sin causes suffering; we reap what we sow and deeds will be repaid.  Love responds with the person's long term well-being in mind; always maintaining the truth and challenging them according to their spiritual maturity.  This is how Christ loved sinners.  He was often gentle with them while firm with the truth, yet harsh with the 'spiritually mature'.  He was even patient with the 'prophetess' in our passage, saying 'I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.'

Let's pray that the Lord would give us the wisdom to love as He loves; knowing when to be gentle and patient, and when to be firm and intolerant.  Ask Him for His genuine compassion for sinners and for courage to speak the truth.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV)

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