Is Tolerating the Same as Condoning?

When it comes to condoning something or tolerating it, we often use these terms interchangeably, but at the root of their meaning, they are different.

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Let’s see how the Internet dictionary defines them:

Condoneaccept and allow (behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive) to continue.

Tolerateallow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference. 
They seem to be the same, don’t they? In both cases, we do not like what is being done, but the difference is that what we condone, we accept, but what we tolerate we don’t accept, but we do not interfere with it.
For example, I do not condone the traditional “church” teachings that the Torah is just for Jews and Christians only have to obey the Ten Commandments. I tolerate it because I cannot change 2000 years of Christian doctrine, but I do not condone, meaning I do not accept, that it is correct and I demonstrate that by arguing against the idea whenever I get the chance.
Now, let’s take today’s lesson to the next level.
I often see many arguments (which really should be discussions) between Believers about topics that are hot potatoes, such as the pronunciation of God’s Holy Name (called the Tetragrammaton), which calendar is correct, whether the Earth is flat or round, and the whole idea of the Trinity. And, not to be forgotten, the “Once Saved, Always Saved” teaching.
And let’s not forget what I already mentioned, the idea that the Mosaic Law is just for Jews.
Today, I am not going to discuss any of these topics, and if you comment about them I will not post or answer your comments because this message is not about these topics; it is about how we should react (or better yet, act) when we are in one of these discussions. I will tell you right now, absolutely, that you will never change anyone’s mind about any of these topics. Why do I say that? History. I have never seen, in many years of these discussions, anyone who said, “Gee! Now that you mention it, I think you are right!”
Maybe there are some rare instances where this happens, and I put that down to the old saying, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then” meaning that there are always exceptions.
As for me, I do not design my life around the exceptions – I concentrate on the 90%, not the 10%, and for that reason, I have pretty much stopped arguing these topics.
I am tolerating them, but I do not condone them; tolerating them means I won’t interfere in these discussions because the more people argue something that can never be answered, the more division within the body of the Messiah it causes. I will not be a part of that, so I leave those discussions alone.
I recommend you do the same because history shows that arguing your side of any topic with others who refuse to listen will not build but will tear down, and too often when people pridefully try to convince someone else that they are wrong, the discussion becomes an argument which quickly devolves into one or both attacking the other on a personal level.
This sort of activity doesn’t serve God, but it does do wonders for the devil. He loves to see Believers fight because, as the Messiah himself said, a house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:22.)
If you really know something to be true, but someone else disagrees with you, you owe it to them to show them the truth. Once, maybe even twice, you can argue, compassionately, respectfully, and intelligently for your side. However, if you have made two or three good points, and that person is just absolutely set that they are right and you are wrong, then LET IT GO!  Wake up! You’re throwing pearls before swine, and you need to follow Yeshua’s advice, which is to stop wasting your time (Matthew 10:14; Luke 9:5).

If you find yourself arguing with someone and you have attempted three times to show them the truth, as you know it, and you find their argument is not making any sense to you, then stop. Tell them you will have to agree to disagree, and if they also stop, then you have both done well. Neither one of you condone the other’s beliefs, but you are willing, for the sake of not “dividing the house”, to tolerate each other.

If either one of you cannot stop trying to convince the other, then it isn’t about the truth anymore, it is simply pridefulness. When someone cannot tolerate someone else disagreeing with them, they are not working for God’s kingdom by continuing to argue; what they have done is to switch masters and they are now working for Satan’s kingdom. When someone is causing division and strife within the body of Believers, they are not serving God or Messiah.
Listen to yourself when you are in a discussion with someone, and once you have failed to convince them three times, be willing to stop. If you continue to argue, you have crossed the line from teaching to pridefulness and you are causing division within the house of God.
Look, I know how hard it is to allow someone to continue to believe that which you know is wrong, but everyone has a right to decide for themselves what they will believe. God gave them that right, and so who are you to abrogate it? You are not condoning (meaning accepting as correct) sin or wrongful teaching when you tolerate someone else’s opinion. And, after they prove that they will not change their mind, you need to let them alone and pray that one day God will open their heart to hear the truth. In the meantime, keep yourself from falling into sin with them by continuing to argue and cause division.
Here’s today’s lesson in a nutshell: don’t beat your head against a wall because the wall will always win.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Pride and Prejudice

No, I am not talking about the classic novel. Truth be told, I never read it.

I am talking about my experiences on different Face Book Discussion Groups. I have joined a few, mainly to get my name “out there” to generate interest in this ministry, my website, and (maybe?) sell a book or two. So far it has been more painful than useful.

I have been a member of one group that was supposed to be about the Torah, but instead ended up being all about Kabbalah and Talmud, almost totally Rabbinical-based. I was also on one that was titled in a way that made you think it had Messianic Jews and Messianic Christians in it, but that was not so, either.

In both these different groups I found opinions that were anywhere from banal to heretical, and it seems that 20% of the people in the group (based on the numbers of members) did 80% of the posting.

And much of what was posted was, at least for me, useless. I saw posts that were nothing more than a “copy and paste” from the bible, verse upon verse, different verses from different books tied together in a continuous diatribe, with no message, no drash- just copy and paste. Some people did find something edifying in those posts, so it did serve a purpose for some, but to me that is just a topographical, empty spiritual experience. I don’t need to be in a discussion group to read bible verses.

The real problem is the pridefulness I see in the members of these groups that makes them prejudice towards anyone that disagrees with them. I have seen abusive, degrading and distasteful language used against someone who just disagrees. I have been the butt of this, myself. I mentioned how I felt about the Zohar, the “bible” of Kabbalah on one site, and I was accused of being in league with HaSatan because by my not wanting to read it I was being willfully ignorant, which is a sin and therefor in league with the Devil.

Really? Not wanting to read something that I was taught Judaism (and this was supposedly a Torah based site) has historically considered heretical because I don’t want to expose myself to it, makes me a demon? This one person went as far as to say that Yeshua (Jesus) was Kabbalah and taught from that.  The Chasidic and Orthodox Jews believe Kabbalah was first introduced at Sinai and was part of the Oral Torah, which has become the Talmud. In other sources the origin of Kabbalah is 12th to 13th Century in Spain.

The point is not what Kabbalah is or isn’t, but that when someone disagrees with you and you find yourself attacking the person instead of the argument, then your pride has taken over and you’re showing signs of prejudice. The anger and frustration you feel is causing you to become aggressive and impolite, and that is directly from pridefulness.

When we recommend something, or suggest a way to do something, if the person we give that suggestion to decides not to do it, many of us feel that we have been insulted. “You asked me, and I told you- so why won’t you do it?” is the feeling we have. We forget it is very likely that what we suggested is not a good suggestion; maybe it isn’t right, or maybe the person knows that it is a good suggestion, but there are other factors we don’t know about (which the person does) which render the suggestion as inappropriate. If nothing else, when someone asks for an idea or suggestion that doesn’t mean they have to do what is suggested. It is not personal, it is not because they don’t like you or think less of you, it is just that they decided they don’t want to do what was suggested. They have that right.

So, when I said I didn’t want to read the Zohar because of what I had been taught about it, why did I have to be called “willfully ignorant”, or be told that I am in league with Satan, or that I am unable to make up my own mind and am “easily swayed”? Why?- because the people who I was having this discussion with are so prideful and defensive of their own beliefs that they have to attack and demean anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

And this wasn’t any one group- I have been in (and out) of about 5 groups, of which (so far) only two have been representative of what I would expect from a God-fearing group of people who believe in Yeshua, or are (for lack of a better term) “Christian” in their approach to people. And when I use the term “Christian” I mean what we would want “Christian” to mean.

So, now that that’s off my chest, what is the value of this little rant of mine? It is to remind everyone, including myself, that when we talk about God, Yeshua or the bible, we are representing that topic. In other words, if I say I believe in Yeshua and am talking with another person who doesn’t, when they disagree with me and I start to brow-beat them, call them insulting names and tell them they are doomed for hell and eternal destruction, what kind of image will that leave them about all Believers? I think we can agree that their perception of someone who is “Christian” or “Messianic” will not be a good one. When we talk about God, no matter how adamant the other person is in their opinion, let them be the one that is out of control and wildly defensive. Let them be the one to attack you and call you names or infer your lack of strength or wisdom. Let them be the one who leaves a bad taste in the mouth of all listening. In the meantime, you be compassionate, respectful and patient. If they become abusive, politely ask them to not attack you personally and stay on the topic. If they can’t, then politely excuse yourself. Let everyone who is listening see the peace and security you have in your belief- wildly defensive is saying I can’t be sure of what I am saying and anyone who doesn’t agree is weakening my faith, so I must destroy them. Quietly and calming explaining why you believe in something shows a deep and confident faith in the truth of what you are talking about.

We know who God is, we know who Yeshua is, and we know (or we should) from our experience with God and Yeshua that whether someone accepts or rejects, the truth is still the truth.  In the Trilogy of the Matrix, Morpheus talks about the prophecy of “The One.” His commanding officer says that not everyone believes as Morpheus does, to which Morpheus replies that his faith doesn’t require anyone else to believe as he does. Now that is a statement of faith!

So even if someone is bound for hell, just because it is the truth doesn’t mean you have to tell them- you certainly won’t gain anything from it with regards to changing their mind. And if someone is adamant God doesn’t exist, remember that they have a right to their opinion. God gave us all Free Will to choose or reject Him- you know God exists, so you don’t need their approval or agreement because God exists whether they believe it or not.

Too many people have a bad image of “Believers” because too many Believers have left that image with them by being so zealous that they actually do the opposite of what they want to do: instead of making people jealous of the peace the Ruach (Spirit) gives us and of the fearlessness we have knowing that God is on our side, they leave the impression that all “Bible-thumpers” are totally out of touch with reality, and the last thing anyone would want to do is become that way.

When we proclaim ourselves as followers of Messiah, everything we do and say is a reflection on Messiah. Everything. And when someone who has rejected God, and/or Yeshua , sees us act in a poor fashion, they will use that as a reason to continue to reject God and His Messiah. So instead of saving a soul, we are contributing to their death.

Think about that the next time you are in a discussion with someone trying to win their soul for Messiah.