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Understanding the True Meaning of Tolerance

Jinger Jarrett
Aug 17, 2007
Dictionary.com defines tolerance as the following:

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.

2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.

3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.

Although there are other definitions for tolerance, they don't relate to what I'm about to say.

I live in the United States of the Offended. It seems like every time you turn around somebody is whining about being offended or having his/her rights violated. Often these are rights they really don't possess.

I believe that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want. However, no right is absolute. It doesn't mean you have the right to say whatever you want, or to act on those beliefs.

An example in America is racism. Racism simply means that you think your race is superior to everyone else's. I'm sure there are people who believe that. So what?

Far more dangerous is prejudice and discrimination. Holding prejudiced beliefs and then acting on them leads to discrimination against others for a lot of different reasons.

I don't believe Christians are any more intolerant than anyone else. I don't believe our faith is a religion of intolerance.

Anyone who wants to become a Christian can certainly do so. The real problem is when Christians begin to embrace sin. When we say that it's OK to engage in any kind of behavior as long as it makes you happy.

This is where we need to draw the line. The bottom line is that Christians will always be accused of being bigots. However, as long as we respect the rights of others, even when we disagree, we're not bigots at all. We are simply trying to follow Christ, and He never had a problem with confronting another person about his/her sin.

One fundamental right we all need to recognize is the right to free choice. It is a right that God has given to all of us. We can choose to love Him or not. We can choose to be sinners, or not. We can choose to walk the path Christ has created for us, or not.

Just as I don't want to see my faith banned, or outlawed, I would see no one else's right to practice his or her faith outlawed. I may not agree with it, but as long as it does no harm to others, I see no point in telling others what to think, believe, or how to act.

America is at a crossroads; we can choose to respect the rights of others without agreeing with them. This also means that sometimes we will have to stand up for what is right when the acts of others are harmful.

The late Reggie White, Greenbay Packer, and one of the greatest pro football players of the NFL, was called the "Minister of Defense". He earned this title not only because he was the greatest defensive player who played the game, but he was also an ordained minister. He said that Christians should be "meek, not weak".

Meek doesn't mean being a doormat. It means being patient. It's time to stop being doormats. It's time to stop getting our feelings hurt every time someone calls us a name, or disrespects our faith.

Jesus called us to love. Judgement belongs to Him. It doesn't mean we shouldn't be discerning about our relationships and who we choose to associate with. Hang out in a bar long enough, and you'll be drinking.

However, in your daily contact with non believers, you need to love them. You don't have to agree with them, and it isn't your place to judge them.

Let Jesus heal your life. Lead by example. How you live will be a far more shining example of what Jesus can do than your words.

The Bible says that what's impossible with man is possible with God. God can do anything as long as you get your free will out of the way and allow Him to bless you. Only by allowing God to bless you, can you be a blessing to others.

There are so many broken, hurting, people in the world today, and you have the power, and the great Physician to help you do it.

Show others your respect. Demonstrate the true meaning of tolerance. Show them your love, and you will change the world in a way that is only possible with God.
About the Author
Jinger Jarrett wants to show you how to live the life you've always dreamed of. You can read her blog, The Science of Getting Rich for Christians. Get her best free resources on changing your life at Squidoo.
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