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Did you know the the idea of religious intolerance is not new? No, nor is it some recent cultural propaganda to persecute Christians. Religious intolerance has been around a long time and we see clear examples of it in the Bible. Today we will take a look at religious intolerance in the Bible and see what to do about it.

religious intolerance in the bible

Religious Intolerance in the Bible and What to Do About It

Have you ever had one of those days where God blows your mind? It happened to me a few months ago. The day began like most others, I over slept, tried to speed through my prayer time and skimmed the passage in my Bible study. But a few words popped out at me so loudly I had to stop and slow down.

Romans 2:1-4 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Did you see them? Let me pull out a few things that I didn’t realize belonged in the Bible.

you have no excuse… you condemn yourself… When you pass judgement on those who practice such things…

We could stop right here and say that the moral of the story is “Don’t judge others because we all sin”. Right?!?! That would be enough to convict us all but would it be enough to change you? But God didn’t stop there and I’m so glad He didn’t! We see God address religious intolerance in the Bible head first and then tell us what to do about it!!!!!!!

Amen! Hallelujah!! And ouch!!!

First, what does religious intolerance mean?

Just to clear the air, we all sin. We. All. Sin. (Romans 3:23)

My sin probably looks different than your sin. I’ve been saved over 30 years and God has rigorously chipped away at my sin habits over the years so much so that most of my sin is not public. How about you?

Just because no one knows I lust, am inpatient, deal with jealousy and price, doesn’t make that sin less sinful to God. No, to God sin is sin.

But because it’s my sin I sweep it under the rug, excuse it and thank God for forgiveness and mercy. Now my husbands sin is another story. I notice that, brew over it and judge him for it. And the sin of complete strangers? Well, I’ve been saved 30 years. I can find a verse against nearly any sin I don’t practice… just sayin’. How about you?

Do you judge others sin because:

  • It’s different than your sin
  • More public than your sin
  • More repulsive than your sin
  • Less socially acceptable than your sin

When we judge the sin of others – outside of the church – and publicly condemn them to hell for it we are practicing religious intolerance. And Romans 4:4 tells us this is the WRONG approach. Religious intolerance will not win the lost world for Jesus! Not only that, but intolerance is one of the reasons there is a lack of unity in the Church!

Next lest see the Biblical tolerance definition

We see what God tells us to do about religious intolerance in the Bible in verse 4.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

What drew you to God?

For me it was His love and acceptance. I spent most of my childhood in the midst of abuse and rejection. When I met God it was the first time I ever remember feeling loved in my life. As I saw God’s love* shine from the eyes of an old country preacher week after week I knew I had to know God personally.

God’s love is what draws us. Yes, God judges the lost world for their sin but not out of hate for them. Rather God’s judgement of sin is directly tied to God’s love for us. God loves you so much He doesn’t want to see you suffer the consequences that sin always bring.

Sin always brings consequences. God’s love is intolerant to the suffering of His children. That’s why He calls us to live differently, that’s why He sent His Son to die for our sin.

God tells Christians to Love people, show people His love. God is Love. God is patient and kind to us regardless of how sinful we are or how far we run from Him. That is the definition of Biblical tolerance – patient loving kindness despite constant rejection. God just keeps loving us until we surrender into His arms.

Then, when we are His, He slowly, patiently begins changing our sin habits.

What does loving kindness mean in the Bible?

The author of our text know all about God’s loving kindness. Paul stood as a witness as the first apostle was martyred. Paul persecuted Christians, happily sending them to be crucified – the most heinous of murder weapons known to man through all of history. Yet God, with loving kindness, pursued this same murderer until He converted Paul not only to Christianity but to be a leader of this faith in it’s most crucial time.

God’s loving kindness says, “Yes you deserve judgement and punishment but I’ve taken that on myself at Calvary.”

Instead of judgement for our sins – which we rightly deserve – God say we are to receive good things!

Good things in the Bible

James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Matthew 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Does that sound like a God who bombs clinics or burns buildings because sin happens in them? Never once did we see Jesus respond with judgement or intolerance to the lost – He reserved that for the saved who were living in open sin… which would be a whole different topic for another day… Let’s suffice it to say that we the Church need unity in the Church

Bible verses about acceptance of others

1 Peter 3:9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

Romans 14:1-2 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.

Not only does God have good things in store for us, but God accepts people where they are and expects us to follow His example. No, I don’t mean we accept open sin from believers, but God works on us – slowly – until we are more Holy. Through the process He forgives us, changes us and is endlessly patient with us.

We need to love others the way God loves us – forgiving and patent instead of demonstrating religious intolerance!

What to do about Religious Intolerance in the Bible

So yes, God will judge the world for the sin. God is just and when God is Just it’s hard to know what to do or say about it… He is the Ancient of Days, taking note of every wrong thing to stand Judge over all of History at the end of time… But God is also compassionate and filled with loving kindness – so much so that He sent His Only Son to die for you and me and every sinner alive.

Religious intolerance has been around since Bible times which is why we see religious intolerance in the Bible – repeatedly. I am so thankful that God addresses it straight on instead of leaving it a grey area.

God does not tolerate self-righteousness and tells us point blank that sin is sin. He tells us not to judge others sin because we also sin. Instead of judging others for practicing different sin than you practice, why not love them through the process as God grows them and matures them?

The next time you start to judge lady in the pew in front of you for wearing jeans and a tattered t-shirt remember God doesn’t pursue us thumping a Bible. Maybe pray for her instead. Try starting a conversation with her, sit next to her, invite her to your Sunday School outing, seek her out next week and pursue a friendship with her.

That’s how God loves us into the Kingdom, He pursues a relationship with us through love, patience and kindness.

I know this woke me up and made me take a long hard look at my self. Who else will commit with me today to make a change today in how we think of others who sin differently than ourselves?

See more about this subject here with Bible verses about accepting others.

in HIM,

Tiffany Montgomery

Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children. Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest or Instagram.


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