How tolerant of other believers should we be? Even when disputing/dialoguing over prominent doctrines, a disciple of Jesus should exercise restraint and show respect. It is one thing to disagree with a position; it is quite another to disparage a person.
We must hold fast to the Truth while showing compassion to those who question it. Like Jesus, we must be full of both grace and truth (John 1:14). Peter strikes a good balance between having the answer and having humility:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15).
Toleration should be exercised for the benefit of those whose faith is weak. God is God and God will show us all the way. Note this is about believers, not non-believers.
- Romans 14:1 (NASB) — Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.
- Romans 14:2–6 — One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Master is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Master, and he who eats, does so for the Master, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Master he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.
- Romans 14:13–22 — Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Master Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom the Messiah died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves the Messiah is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
- 1 Corinthians 8:8–13 — But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake the Messiah died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against the Messiah. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
A disciple of Jesus has accepted Truth, not just as a concept, but as a Person. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Truth exists. Jesus is Truth. Truth is not relative. Truth, in the person of Jesus, is absolute.
This acknowledgment of Truth distances the disciple from the so-called “open-mindedness” of the day. The disciple has publicly acknowledged that Jesus rose from the dead. If he truly believes in the resurrection, how can he be “open-minded” concerning an unbeliever’s assertion that Jesus never rose again? For a disciple to deny the clear teaching of God’s Word would indeed be a betrayal of God.