Wednesday, August 28

The end of tolerance

Scripture: Ezekiel 1-3, Revelation 2

Revelation 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.


In His letter to the church at Thyatira, Jesus commends them, then adds this rebuke: they tolerate Jezebel, who is misleading others into sin.

I was surprised to learn that the Greek word translated “tolerate” is aphiemi, the word for forgiveness.  To let it go.  It is often used to mean “to let, to allow, to tolerate.”  

In this passage, tolerance is a problem.  They are allowing this false prophet to mislead people with disastrous results.  


Most of us think of tolerance as a virtue—and it usually is.  Tolerance is essential for people to live in harmony.  But there are times when it is not a virtue.  There are things that shouldn’t be tolerated, but openly resisted.  For example, criminal activity should not be tolerated.  Things that harm people should not be tolerated.  There is an end to tolerance.

One of my high school teachers said that my right to swing my fist ended at the tip of his nose.  My freedom ends at the tip of his nose.  And tolerance for swinging my fist ends there too.  Behavior that harms others is not to be tolerated, but resisted.  

The church in Thyatira was tolerating behavior that they should have resisted out of love for the people being harmed.  There was an end to tolerance.

What am I tolerating that I shouldn’t be?  What am I allowing that should be stopped?  There’s an end to tolerance.  It’s the tip of my nose—and yours.

Prayer: Lord, please show me what I’m tolerating that I should not.