Summary: A message describing how we are to view "tolerance."

“Judge Not”- The Issue of Tolerance

Matthew 7:1-2, John 8

March, 2000


A few years back I had to take a second job stocking groceries. During one shift I was able to strike up a conversation with one of my co-workers that eventually drifted to the subject of the recently deceased Princess Di. He was of the opinion that she would be in heaven because of her humanitarian work.

I answered, “In spite of the fact that she was an adulteress, right?” His response was that we should not judge someone unless we have walked a mile in his or her shoes. I answered that regardless of Prince Charles’ treatment of her, it is no excuse for sin. He didn’t like that answer, but it needed to be said.

His attitude is reflective of the mindset of a growing number of people here in the US and abroad. That mindset says that we are to be “tolerant” of other viewpoints, religions, and lifestyles, including lifestyles clearly prohibited by Scripture.

When talking with people they perceive as being “religious,” they love to quote the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you, too will be judged.”

Well, how do you respond to that? Are we really being judgmental and intolerant?

Today, we look at tolerance and judgmentalism in light of God’s Word. My purpose today is to show what the Bible really says about tolerance, and how to answer the charge of intolerance.

It’s my hope that we will leave better prepared to meet this challenge to our convictions.

There are two things we need to do in all this. And the first is to…

I. Know the Issues.

Know what you’re talking about when confronting a challenge to Biblical teachings and convictions.

No one likes to be considered an air-head, so do your homework before entering the fray.

And the first step is to…

A. Know what they mean by “tolerance.”

To begin with, we need to define the term. The word, “tolerance” does not appear in Scripture. So by defining it, we will see the principles involved.

Tolerance, according to The American Heritage Dictionary is “the capacity for or practice of recognizing and respecting the opinions, practices, or behavior of others.”

When you talk about “tolerating” something, what generally comes to mind?

I think of things like brussel sprouts. Or blueberry pie.

I don’t like these, but I tolerate them if they’re offered to me.

I tolerate other people’s opinions about me, but that doesn’t mean that I agree or accept them at face value.

When you tolerate something, you’re putting up with something you don’t necessarily like.

But that’s not what the world means. The world doesn’t see it that way. It would have us not only respect or recognize a different opinion, practice, or behavior, but it wants us to embrace and celebrate it.

And if we don’t, we’re accused of being intolerant and judgmental. And as mentioned, they throw Jesus’ own words in our face. I tell you folks, that really burns my toast.

Folks, tolerance does not mean acceptance, and it certainly does not mean celebration.

And if someone tells you that you have no right to believe as you do, remind them that they are not being very tolerant, according to their own definition.

Next, in knowing the issues, we need to…

B. Understand the term “judge.”

Let’s turn to that passage real quick, shall we? Matthew 7:1-2, which is on page 685 of the Bibles in the seats.

-“Do not judge, or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”-

Is Jesus really telling us not to judge at all?

No. In fact, just a few verses later, He calls some people wolves in sheep’s clothing, and evildoers. Sounds judgmental to me!

Listen to Jesus’ words in John 7:24 -

Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."

Here’s Jesus telling us to make judgements!

The point in Matthew 7 is to avoid judging with an inappropriate sense of moral superiority over another person because of that person’s moral failures.

In other words, we are not to look at someone who has fallen short with some smug “holier-than-thou” attitude. Jesus rebukes that attitude when he describes the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18.

Remember that story? The Pharisee was at the temple praying, “God, thank You that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector.” But the tax collector could not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

What Jesus condemns is a critical and judgmental spirit, an unholy sense of moral superiority. Jesus commanded us to examine ourselves FIRST for the problems we see so easily in others.

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Jerry Jewer

commented on Oct 14, 2006

Brian, I really appreciated your thoughts. At least a few phrases stuck with me as significant as I prepare my message on the cultural value of Tolerance verses God's value. Blessings.

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