Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
-- Luke 6:37
Have you ever been accused of intolerance?
If you’re a Christ-follower who’s open about your faith, then you probably have – or soon will be. Turn on the TV or surf the Internet a while. You don’t have to look hard to find articles or videos featuring Hollywood celebrities or “open-minded” journalists who point their fingers and use the dreaded “I-Word” against Christians.
But depending on the situation, is intolerance always such a bad thing? Many see Christ-followers – and Christianity in general – as very intolerant and holier-than-thou. For instance, Jesus declared Himself to be the exclusive path to God.
"I am the way and the truth and the life.” He said. “No one comes to the Father except through me.”This bold proclamation defies today’s all-inclusive, politically-correct atmosphere. After all, it hurts people’s feelings and suggests that some faiths are better than others. But mankind’s demands for fairness and open-mindedness are irrelevant; Jesus has no tolerance for false, second-rate gods and allegiances.
As Christ-followers, we have open access to God’s truth through the Bible, prayer and even wise counsel from fellow Believers. We should therefore have less trouble than others with telling right from wrong. But actually doing so is another matter. And this opens us up – and often rightfully so – to charges of self-righteousness and hypocrisy. That’s because the world is not only watching us, it’s comparing our Sunday morning words to our Monday through Saturday actions.
When you point your finger at someone else, your other four fingers point right back at you. We therefore need to look closely in the mirror before accusing others. Are your own words, thoughts and deeds beyond reproach? Jesus was right on the mark when He said we must remove the plank from our own eye before removing the speck from our neighbor’s eye. We also need to consider the person in need of guidance. Is he or she already a fellow Christ-follower? Or is the so-called “sinner” someone who never signed up for Jesus’ walk of faith in the first place?
The answer determines the proper response. But either way, Christ-followers must still hold themselves to much higher standards of behavior. And on the flipside, we need to let God be the judge of others outside the faith. He knows the whole story; we’re hardly in the position to condemn anyone.
So forget tolerance; it’s love that’s the core value of Christ-followers. Love must therefore be our motivation in whatever we say or do. As the Apostle John reminds us, “God is Love.”