Patience endures all things by faith, and does it with joy, even in the midst of sorrow and intense discomfort. Tolerance is incapable of an inward positive attitude despite its outward display, which can only last for so long.
The question every Christian needs to ask is: “Have I being living in tolerance or patience?”
If you consider yourself to be generally patient, but are constantly unable to stop yourself from venting your frustrations when better judgment tells you that it is wiser to restrain yourself—which in turn frustrates you even more—then you probably haven’t learned the Spirit’s patience, but have been running on the fuel of human tolerance and are burned out already. Your tolerance eventually gives way to your frustration because in its flawed nature, it is highly dependent upon your moods/emotions. And every mature Christian knows that it is not wise to live a life ruled by emotions. You have to live above them, and make them cooperate with the will of God made known to you.
Does that mean we should ignore our emotions?
Of course, not! That would be dangerous. Always acknowledge how you feel. Don’t run from it, struggle to suppress it or try to attain a form of righteousness by leaning into shame or false guilt. Take a moment if you need to, and submit your thoughts and feelings to God. Then receive the peace, comfort and grace offered to you to move forward so that you can live joyfully. Continued persistence in this—living in God’s offered love, joy, peace, and comfort—will eventually heal you. What you shouldn’t do is wallow in negative emotions, and let them swallow and control your life; this is why so many people today use their emotions and self-pity as an excuse to continue on a destructive path.
It is important to note that negative thoughts lead to negative emotions. If you find that you feel bad at a certain moment, but don’t understand why, or you find that you’re generally unhappy, check your thought life. Don’t be surprised to discover that your thoughts are filled with any of these: fear, anxiety, anger, frustration or worse. Your emotions are an indicator of your thought life. Positive thoughts trigger pleasant emotions. Negative thoughts produce negative emotions which lead to an unhappy moment or situation, and if continued, an unhappy life.
Back to patience and tolerance.
Patience, unlike Tolerance, is not dependent upon emotion. Patience helps the child of God to rise above their emotion and do the right thing. Therefore, where patience endures, tolerance will crack under. Patience, being Spirit-born surpasses and is able to accomplish far more than tolerance—which is human-conceived.
“But is tolerance so bad,” you may ask. “What is the danger in having it co-exist with patience,” you may wonder.
As stated in the Part 1 of this article in an attempt to answer the second question, tolerance has no standard or bar; its margin borders on what each individual considers to be acceptable, which could span a wide range of things depending on each individual’s belief system. Patience is not like that. Patience is built on God’s standard of righteousness. When God said that we have all fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23), and that our righteousness is like filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:6), it’s because our thoughts and ways, including our human-conceived tolerance, terribly fall short of His ways, which in this case is patience; tolerance cannot be compared to patience. Tolerance is the human way; patience is God’s way. And clearly God’s way is higher (Isaiah 55:8-9). How then can both co-exist? One has to be done away with for the other to fully thrive. Can light dwell with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)—because where patience leads you to light and to depend on God, tolerance eventually leads you to darkness because it is dependent on human strength and values, which are different from God’s (see Galatians 5:16-17).
In answering the first question: is tolerance so bad?
Ultimately, yes, it is. Because, like every other good thing created and found in God that has a counterfeit, tolerance is the world’s counterfeit of God’s righteous patience. Bear in mind that the devil’s counterfeits propose two things—that one: he is like God and has led man to believe the same as he does, so that man either worships the devil in some form or idol or worships himself; and the consequence of this belief leads to the second point: that man doesn’t need God, which ultimately leads him to rebel against God even when he knows that God exists. In his futile thinking, if his wisdom was sufficient to create his own tolerance, then he doesn’t need God’s patience after all. Besides, they’re the same and lead to a similar end. Right? Wrong! And that’s where the lie is laid. The two don’t lead to the same end at all. Tolerance may have a form of appearance that resembles patience so much so that they are frequently interchanged—even by Christians—but they are not the same. Like every other counterfeit master-minded by the devil, the ultimate objective of tolerance—it’s real purpose—is to lead you to fail. Many marriages fail because where patience was needed, it was replaced with tolerance. Relationships between parents and their children remain broken because patience is thrown out and tolerance is given the pedestal. Churches fall apart because there was “tolerance” between the members and the pastors, as well as among the members, instead of the nurturing of the patience offered by the Holy Spirit which could have led to harmony and unity…not uniformity—something that tolerance seems to like! Subtly, sneakily, but effectively, the devil has used the counterfeit, tolerance, to replace the gift, patience, in the minds of people, including Christians, and the result is damage.
Tolerance, in its counterfeit nature, isn’t built to last, and you will discover its valueless quality at a time you need it the most—but at that time, it would have already failed you because it has no endurance like patience. It is better for you to learn by the power and instruction of the Holy Spirit, to draw out the fruit of patience already put in your spirit, which was made righteous when you became born again, so that you can live it out from within. When God made you righteous, His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, came to abide in your newborn spirit, and for this reason, you have already received everything you need pertaining to a godly life on earth (see 2 Peter 1:1-4), including the fruit of the spirit, patience. The journey you’re on now, is learning to allow your soul (mind, heart, will, emotions) constantly choose the Spirit’s will which your spirit is being taught by Him showing you new things and reminding you of the things already taught (see John 14:26; 16:13), so that you live them out and rule over your flesh. This is the default system that God designed man to function. But when sin came, we were cut off from God, and our spirits experienced death, and the soul defaulted to receiving from the sin-stained flesh, instead. Learning to live our true nature as originally designed by God may be hard, but by the power supplied through His grace, this journey of learning and reverting back to God’s design is absolutely worth it! And God hasn’t left us alone to do it. His Spirit is with us as a seal of promise of righteousness until the day we finish our work and are completely transformed and are like Jesus. This is the promise of God! So don’t be afraid to choose patience over tolerance. It is a path you must follow if you will become the person that God has purposed you to be. Cheers!
About The Editor
Miranda A. Uyeh is the founder and editor of To Be A Person (TBAP), the author of Christian Romance/Suspense fiction, To Die Once: Child of Grace #1, & a Mogul Global Ambassador. She was a one-time shortlisted judge for the Inspy Awards in 2014 in the Contemporary Romance & Romance/Suspense Category.
When Miranda isn’t reviewing books/entertainment or hosting interviews on TBAP, she’s writing, reading for fun or relaxing with a good movie! When she gets bored with the world, she talks to God about it! To learn more about her book, To Die Once, her journey as an author and her other activities, you can follow her personal website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.
The article, Patience Vs Tolerance (Part 2): The Trick & The Difference, first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).