“Oh, I’m tolerable” — a phrase used by some old-timers.
That means “I’m not feelng great, but I can endure the suffering.”
We all have our levels of intolerance or tolerance, but that doesn’t mean a person is a bigot or biased. It just means one has his limits when he finds himself in difficult situations.
Now, tolerance is not acceptance. Tolerance is enduring without acceptance.
You just can’t take it any longer when pain becomes intolerable. Some temporal things (minor or major) are considered intolerable on the personal level — the heat, the cold, children’s sass, a person’s whining, bad service and so forth. So what to do when it extends to people?
The Bible gives us a solution for this problem in Galatians 5:22-25. After talking about the “intolerable” works of the flesh (Verses 19-21), Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. And surprise! None of this fruit is against the law. He goes on to say, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
The fruit of the Spirit, you’ll note, all blend together. You can’t have one without the other. Your heart can’t be filled with love, and not portray gentleness or longsuffering. You can’t enjoy peace without temperance (self-control). And how could faith have its perfect work without goodness and meekness? Where is the joy unless this fruit is present?
“But I don’t like what you said,” or I don’t agree with you.” That’s all right. A person can love another and be longsuffering without condoning or accepting a contrary opinion. But don’t expect a Christian to be acceptable of sin. So when one objects to or protests a stated opinion, who is the intolerable one?
Toleration only comes into play when negatives are expressed against a personal belief.
For instance, there can be no toleration on the national level concerning religion, because, in the United States, one religion has as good a right as another to the free enjoyment of its creed and worship. This is explained in the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster (1828): “Toleration implies right in the sovereign to control men in their opinions and worship, or it implies the actual exercise of power in such control. Where no power exists or none is assumed to establsh a creed and a mode of worship, there can be no toleration in the strict sense of the word.”
Countries which do not have the freedom of religion, but permit other practices by (negatively permitting) not preventing or restraining, are said to be tolerant.
Christians are admonished to be longsuffering and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” They are not told to forgive sin — only God can forgive sin — but they are told not to partake of sin. Christians are commanded to forgive one another for the wrongs done to them and that’s a personal thing. Only God sees the depths of a person’s heart. One can’t judge another’s spirituality. But a person is known by the fruit he bears.
Christ died for all because He loves all. If we want to live in the Spirit, we must walk in the Spirit. The way is found in the Word.
In 2 Peter 1, we are given the equation: Add to faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity — “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).