Revelation 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
This church sounds a lot like some today! They were doing good things, but they were over tolerant of severe error. Sexual sin is precisely where some churches are failing today, and it’s obvious that’s not a new problem. Jesus makes it clear that such sin brings consequences, but in verse 24 and following He is very reassuring and comforting to those who have avoided such error. It’s no accident that the buzzword of the day is “tolerance.” As has been pointed out, it is sadly ironic that those who use the word most seem to display genuine tolerance the least. In the Church, tolerance is very dangerous, as this verse says. We are to love people as they are but not leave them as they are. Jesus said that He will never drive away anyone who comes to Him, and that’s not conditional on our condition when we come. (John 6:37) However, if we come to Him we must repent of how we have been apart from Him, and allow Him to change us. In this passage, the next verse says that this woman was unwilling to repent, and the consequences were dire for her and those who followed her. Church discipline is a touchy subject, and has even generated law suits in the US. Churches all over the world are being accused of intolerance simply for stating Biblical standards of morality. We must not be afraid of that, but continue to speak the truth in love even when it’s politically incorrect.
In my first pastorate, a previous pastor developed a brain tumor from the stress of trying to deal with an immoral church officer. When I arrived, that church officer was still in the church, though no longer an officer and not actively continuing his adultery. I learned a number of things in that pastorate! I don’t like confrontation at all, but I have learned, the hard way at times, that avoidance never solves problems. Often, “tolerance” can be a euphemism for conflict avoidance. I am not to seek conflict for its own sake, but I am not to allow the fear of conflict to deflect me from the truth. I have people I’m dealing with right now who don’t want to hear what I have to say to them. I am not to seek confrontation, but I also must not draw back from it when it is called for. After all, some of the greatest blessings in my life have come when God has confronted me, either directly or through someone who was listening to Him.
Father, thank You for this Word. You know the situations I’m dealing with right now, and You know what is necessary to bring the resolutions You desire. I pray that I would listen to You accurately and obey you completely, so that I may be Your instrument of grace to each of the people involved, for their ultimate blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!