In-tolerant? That sounds opposite of a Biblical response to the angry-about-almost-everything theme of these strange days we live in and I write about activating our faith. So how can intolerance and activating our faith possibly go together?
Scripture does not negate our normal feelings and emotional reactions to injustice of all kinds be it social, personal, spiritual, material or otherwise.
**Last things first explanation/disclaimer – The writer is addressing a church problem with false believers (those who themselves claim the title of Christian brother or sister) but whose lives (words/actions/habits/patterns) reveal otherwise.
Truly, there are more other verses that encourage us to love as we were loved and to forgive as we were forgiven when you are dealing with a repentant person.
Many people misunderstand intolerance to mean that we are not to associate with those who are not Christians. That is not at all what is being talked about.Those referred to in the passages about being intolerant are claiming the name of Christ while practicing the evils listed – it is part of their life and the fruit of their thoughts and actions.
And so regarding those we are told
Be intolerant of immorality
1Cor. 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
1Cor. 5:10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.
1Cor. 5:11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one.
Be intolerant of idolatry
1Cor. 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. It is interesting that the topic of idolatry stems from words like abomination (to stink, to be disgusted, to abhor), harlotry (including adultery and incest) and pornography (to indulge unlawful lust, fornication or promiscuity.
Be intolerant of uncontrolled anger
2Th. 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
Eph. 4:26 Be angry and do not sin.
Everyone who is human will feel anger, but as believers we need to be aware of the first stages of anger and sensitive to curbing and controlling it lest it get out of hand.
What is this volatile anger that erupts into sin? This anger is more than melancholy or disappointment. The meaning of this anger is enraged or infuriate – to act with deliberate and continual injustice and to provoke the same.
To clarify again, all of these passages are talking about discipline in the church. Believers everywhere will be tempted and fall into these areas of sin, but those who are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit will grieve their behavior and will apologize, repent, and seek restoration in relationships and community. They are to be forgiven, embraced and restored into fellowship. The Intolerance and discipline spoken of here is for those who refuse to stop and continue in their ungodly life patterns.
And finally, while being INTOLERANT of these ATTITUDES and PATTERNS OF ACTION AND THOUGHT (first in ourselves) we also acknowledge, particularly if they begin to be a habit:
If we, as believers have fallen into any of these areas of which the church is to be intolerant, we have opportunity to choose Christ and responsibility to become equipped to wrestle against those powers – fully alive in Christ.
I really like the way the Message translates this portion
Eph. 4:14 no prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors.
Instead we are to activate our faith:
Eph. 4:15 God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.
Eph. 4:16 He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
Eph. 4:17 And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd.
Eph. 4:18 They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.
Eph. 4:19 They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
Eph. 4:20 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ!
Eph. 4:21 My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus.
Eph. 4:22 Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life,
Eph. 4:23 a life renewed from the inside
Eph. 4:24 and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
Eph. 4:25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
If you are wondering how to be tolerant of each other while being intolerant of false believers…read on…
Eph. 4:26 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry.
Eph. 4:27 Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Eph. 4:28 Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
Eph. 4:29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Eph. 4:30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
Eph. 4:31 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.
Eph. 4:32 Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
—the lines of intolerance were drawn by God out of love and protection.