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Sermon: The Biblical Difference Between Tolerance And Tolerating


In today's world, tolerance is celebrated as an unassailable virtue. However, as we navigate through these modern times, it becomes imperative to understand the Biblical perspective on tolerance and how it distinguishes it from the act of tolerating.

Our guiding Scripture, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, provides profound insight into this topic:

"But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked person from among you.'"

Through these verses, Apostle Paul enlightens us on the necessity of discernment within the church and the distinct separation between its internal governance and its external judgments of those outside of it.

Understanding Tolerance in the Biblical Context:

As viewed through the lens of Scripture, tolerance is not a blind acceptance of all behaviors and practices. Rather, it is an acknowledgment of the diversity of God's creation and a commitment to love and respect each individual as made in God's image. This form of tolerance does not equate to endorsement or approval of actions that contradict Biblical teachings.

In the context of our key Scripture, Paul underscores the importance of addressing moral discrepancies within the church community—not as a display of judgment but as an act of love and responsibility toward the Spiritual health of the congregation.

The Act of Tolerating:

Tolerating, however, refers to the forbearance or patience we exercise towards one another's imperfections and failings. This involves bearing one another in love, as emphasized throughout the New Testament. Yet, Apostle Paul draws a clear line when it comes to tolerating overt sinfulness within the church body.

The act of tolerating, as shown in 1 Corinthians, is not about passive acceptance but about actively seeking the Spiritual welfare of the community by addressing and correcting behaviors that can lead the group astray. It's about lovingly pointing brothers and sisters back to the path of righteousness for their Salvation and the church's integrity.

The Balance Between Love and Discipline:

Paul's instruction to the Corinthian church reveals a fundamental principle in the Christian faith—the balance between love and discipline. Love without discipline leads to moral chaos and undermines the holiness to which the church is called. Discipline without love, conversely, can harden hearts and drive individuals away from the path to redemption.

Jesus exemplified this balance by eating with sinners and tax collectors, showing unbounded love and grace, and calling them to repentance and a transformed life. His actions were never about endorsing sin but about redeeming the sinner.

Application for Today's Church

Our challenge today is applying these Biblical principles to our lives and church communities. We are called to:

  • Exercise discernment in distinguishing between welcoming everyone with open arms and endorsing every behavior under the guise of tolerance.

  • Practice love and patience in dealing with one another, understanding that we all fall short and need grace.

  • Address sin within the church in a manner that seeks restoration and healing, not condemnation.


Biblical tolerance and toleration are intertwined in the call to love radically while upholding God's truth. They demand of us a compassionate and courageous heart, always pointing others and ourselves towards Jesus Christ—the ultimate standard of truth and love.

May we be a church that loves fiercely, disciplines wisely, and walks humbly with our God, holding fast to the truth of His word while extending grace to all.


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