Summary: Gamaliel gives us a fine example of one who practiced wise toleration without sacrificing what is true, honorable and God inspired.
1. Today’s media continually stresses the importance of tolerating other peoples’ beliefs, practices or viewpoints with a measure of respect. Yet, Christians know that Jesus is THE way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Him.
Gamaliel gives us a fine example of one who practiced wise toleration without sacrificing what is true, honorable and God inspired. He was the grandson of the great Hillel, a Pharisee and a celebrated doctor of law. His learning was so eminent and his character so respected that he is one of seven honored with the title Rabban. He was called the beauty of the Law. Even today the Talmud cites, "Since Rabban Gamaliel died the glory of the law has ceased."
Anecdotes are told of him which show that he was not trammeled by the narrow bigotry of most Pharisees. He rose above the prejudices of his peers. Candor and wisdom characterized Gamaliel.
When the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin most wanted to slay them immediately for their courageous words. However, Gamaliel checked this proposal and then dismissed the apostles and said,
"Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men·I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God. And they took his advice." (Acts 5:35,38-40)
Theme: Gamaliel’s wise message of tolerance was used of God in mighty ways.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you practice a measure of wise tolerance when you are dealing with people who may seem different.
2. Eccleasiastical tradition teaches us that Gamaliel became a Christian and was baptized by Peter and Paul. Gamaliel continued to learn and respond to truth. Those who practice wise tolerance are willing to admit when they are wrong and make the necessary changes in their ideals, beliefs and practices.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you be tolerant without continuing to seek to learn more of God’s truth everyday. Avoid the people who are so tolerant of all beliefs that they are not really interested in conforming to what is true.
3. Gamaliel displayed the kind of wisdom that showed how a tolerant person waits for the fruits of faith to either emerge or fade away. It is a good idea to remember that wisdom is proved right by its deeds. Gamaliel wisely taught that people who are really in harmony with the truth will demonstrate Godâs blessed fruit and those who are phonies will eventually be exposed for what they are.
Many people start out well but eventually get choked out by the worries, riches or pleasures of this life. Trust the Lord to give you the patience to let the truth of a personâs character emerge in the fruits of the Spirit or works of the flesh.
Application: A tolerant person is patient enough to wait and see which people produce lasting fruit.
4. Gamaliel knew that an over reaction to religious zealots could foment rebellion, opposition and a skirmish that may be difficult to deal with. Pick your battles wisely. The tolerant judge reasoned that an over reaction on the part of the Sanhedrin might meet social, political or legal resistance.
Application: When you are challenged by differences of opinions be careful that you do not over react and be guilty of harsh judgments.
5. Gamaliel knew the futility of trying to contend against God. Tolerance always leaves room for the sovereign way that God may work through people. Tolerant people are wise enough to know they do not know everything.
Application: Ask the Lord to give you a trusting heart in His sovereign ways that are higher and wiser than our own finite thinking.
6. Gamaliel feared God enough that he was afraid of opposing God or His people. Keep a healthy fear of God so that you do not try to take the speck out of your brother’s eye before first removing the log from your own eye. When we express prejudice, bigotry or intolerance we have to remember that God’s creation is very broad with 18,800 different ethnic groups and thousands of denominational perspectives representing Him in over 200 countries on the planet.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you to be more tolerant knowing that God’s creation is broader than the measure of any human mind.
Be tender hearted forgiving one another just as God has forgiven us in Christ Jesus. Eph. 4:28-32
Nine Reasons Why People don’t Listen
1. Hard, hostile hearts—Exodus 8:19
4. Complacency—Isaiah 32:9