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Paul J. Bucknell
Part of the problem distorting the glorious picture of mercy is a worldly understanding of tolerance. The world promotes its tolerance as superior and presents mercy almost as sadistic. Jesus, contrarily stated, "Blessed are the merciful!" (Matthew 5:7)
Here are seven crucial differences between mercy and tolerance which provide the foundation to understand how blessedness is sourced only in mercy, not tolerance.
1. Mercy is rejected in our modern society because it is assumed to be weak and despised.
Tolerance is stressed in our today’s society because it is assumed to be the key to a great person.
2. Mercy entertains a compassionate understanding of a person’s plight or situation.
Tolerance is philosophy-oriented and pays little attention to the predicament or situation of the person.
3. Mercy focuses on forgiveness for some wrong.
Tolerance promotes permissiveness.
4. God’s Mercy reaches out to everyone.
Tolerance embraces those who agree with one’s own presuppositions.
5. Mercy is understood by God’s pardon for our many wrongs.
Tolerance acts smugly of one’s own defined standard.
6. Mercy believes, respects, and esteems the law of God.
Tolerance forms its own law and recognizes no law but itself.
7. Mercy lives in the fear of God’s judgment and refuses to overlook the consequence of sin.
Tolerance accepts sinful practices which bring destruction to the soul.
In summary, mercy is a solid biblical term characterized by an attribute of God while tolerance is a worldly and arrogant approach of dealing with those who differ from oneself. So can we substitute this word ‘tolerance’ for ‘mercy’ in the words of Jesus? No, not at all. Tolerance, in short, rejects God’s standards and forms its own much like a demigod. Tolerance is one of several misapplied terms with mercy. Mercy, however, purposely holds back judgment in a spirit of kindness.
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Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988