A woman who was caught having a sexually immoral relationship was dragged before Jesus. The people wanted Him to help stone her to death. After dialogues with them for a while, each one of them started to walk away.
Finally, it was just Jesus and the woman standing there:
“Jesus… asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared.
‘Go now and leave your life of sin.'”
~ John 8:10-11
Jesus offered her grace and not condemnation, two qualities that we ALL appreciate when we have sinned.
Notice too that Jesus’ tolerance did not go so far as to condone or approve of the ongoing practice of her sin. His tolerance included His admonition and His warning to discontinue engaging in the sin.
In our society’s current climate of various groups asking for (and some are outright demanding) “tolerance” for their lifestyle by Christians and Pastors, they define tolerance differently. The society-kind of tolerance is where many want not just non-condemnation, and not just silence, but outright approval of their chosen lifestyle by the Church in both word and in action.
The Jesus-kind of tolerance does not condemn the wrong doer, but it DOES still define “sin” as being wrong, it DOES admonish and encourage a discontinuation of the sin by the wrong doer.
We have ALL been the wrong doer at some point (ok, at MANY points) in our lives, and many of us have experienced the incredible love, grace, and non-condemning response of Jesus as we have stood before Him. We also have taken to heart very seriously His admonition and encouragement that followed us as we went back to our daily life: “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Fellow believers, let’s be gracious in our relationships and encounters with others. Let’s definitely speak the truth, but let’s do so in love.
And finally, a verse that my wife and I really love because we ourselves have each received the kindness of the Jesus-kind of tolerance:
“… realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance (a change of the mind and heart that results in a changed lifestyle)”
~ Romans 2:4