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differentducksIf any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. (John 8:7)

If you want to know how tolerant you really are, don't look at your own mistakes. Rather, look at the mistakes of your worst enemy. Don't measure your tolerance when you put a scratch on the new car‑‑because the parked one was way too far out from the curb. Measure your tolerance when your spouse backs into the left rear fender of your car.

When it happened to you, it was an unfortunate accident, just one of those things. But when it happens to someone else, it is the result of inane stupidity. Tolerance does not involve your mistakes; it involves the mistakes of others. Tolerance has little to do with what you think or do; it deals with your reaction to what others think or do.

Webster says tolerance is to allow beliefs, practices, and attitudes that differ from your own. Tolerance deals with individuality and individual tastes.

If we were all alike, we would have no need for tolerance.

But God made us unlike each other. There is a scene in Leon Uris's book Exodus, where Ari is falling in love with the American nurse, Kitty Fremont. Ari's background is Jewish, and he is giving his life to establish the state of Israel. Ari turns to Kitty and says, "We are different‑‑anyway you look at it‑‑our customs and backgrounds are different."

There are differences in backgrounds and cultures, and those differences are good. They give identity and a sense of belonging to homes and families. Some today would like to eliminate those differences and make everyone the same‑‑like a string of paper dolls. Tolerance involves accepting the differences in life that are the result of different backgrounds and ideas.

There are two golden keys to the door of tolerance. One is acceptance; the other is understanding. Acceptance usually precedes understanding. To accept the differences of thought in another person does not mean that you do not believe that your ideas are important, or that your way of life is not valid. It means that you are willing to allow someone else to have ideas or concepts that are different from your own.

History tells us that people have never been tolerant of those who differ from them. We are like the fellow who said, "There are two ways to look at this‑‑my way and the wrong way." Tolerance is a great help in daily living. In marriage, tolerance means that you learn to love a mate as he is‑‑not as you would like him to be. In the office, it means that you learn to appreciate someone even though you and he vote different political tickets, or root for different football teams. It means that you look deeper than the reflection of your own likes and dislikes, and beneath the differences discover a person of real worth and value.

There are two sides, though, to the coin of tolerance. In spite of what I have said, there is an end to this business of tolerance. Be tolerant of individual differences in taste and thought. But in matters of honesty, integrity and principle, there is no room for tolerance. Should you be tolerant when a sex‑maniac roams your neighborhood? Is there room for tolerance when a dishonest employee is stealing from his employer? Is there room for tolerance when a man turns traitor to his government? Immediately, it becomes clear that tolerance involves individuality‑‑not moral spinelessness.

By those standards, Jesus was one of the world's most intolerant men. He was intolerant of falsehood, corruption, hypocrisy and dishonesty. But His heart went out to men and women who were weak in the flesh, thereby giving us an example to follow.

Scripture reading: John 8

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