TOLERANCE – A Four-Minute Sermon
Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Contributed by Clyde C. Miller
Senior Pastor (Retired), First Christian Assembly, Cincinnati, OH
March 1, 2002
OUR “DIFFERENTIAL ALLOWABLE”
- INTRODUCTION: “IT’S AMAZING HOW MUCH “STUFF” SHE TAKES OFF HIM.”
If you have ever made that statement, then you have defined TOLERANCE in the language of everyday life. Tolerance is how much room, space or patience is allowed before damage is done to one or both of the mating parts. People are made to live in community, but not being too close or to far apart. Being too close, on the one hand, produces too much friction which produces wear and stress. On the other hand, too much space either does not allow for effective operation or produces too much vibration, resulting in damage and destruction.
- DIFFERENTIAL ALLOWABLE
Pierre Paroz, a friend of mine who is in the machine tool business, explained tolerance as the acceptable difference between two parts which must fit together and operate in close proximity to each other. If the “differential allowable” is too great either one part will not accept the other or if accepted without the proper “fit”, vibration or friction during operation will, at worst, destroy both parts or, at best, render them ineffective. In machining, tolerance is the perimeter or boundary that makes possible the mating of one part with the other for productivity.
- TOLERANCE A NECESSITY FOR RELATIONSHIP
Doesn’t the last statement about perimeters and boundaries sound like the same definition of what is necessary for good human relationships? Is there a good fit between you and the other person? If one party’s personality and behavior is too different, a relationship becomes very difficult, if not impossible. In this sphere, tolerance is the allowing of others to coexist with us. Of its very nature, relationship demands a degree of acceptance. If, however, a spirit of exclusiveness dominates our mentality, our degree of tolerance is at once diminished and the “mating, bonding or joining”of an individual or group approaches impossibility.
- PERFECTION, THE ENEMY OF TOLERANCE
Since tolerance might be described as our “differential allowable”, it could also be described as the acceptable margin for error. Does the fit have to be exactly perfect? Perfection makes huge demands. Perfection allows no margin for error. Many a marriage has failed because one or both of the partners demanded perfection, or what he or she perceived as perfection, in the other partner, or in the marriage. The bar was set too high. The couple couldn’t make the hurdle. There was no tolerance available.
- THE CASE FOR GRACE
Here enters the case for grace. The Bible says that we are to “bear with one another and make allowances because we love one another” (Ephesians 4:2). The word allowance is another way to say tolerance. Grace provides enough space for some margin of error without destroying the fit. We must give others some room for differences. We must forgive the mistakes and give some “wiggle” room and accept less than perfect companions and a less than perfect union in order to have a union, at least in this life.
- TOLERANCE A FEATURE OF THE LORD’S PRAYER
How’s your differential allowance? The Golden rule measures both ways and measures best for those who “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. The greatest prayer ever taught was the Lord’s prayer which instructs us to pray, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. ” Here, Lord. I’ll show you how I want you to forgive me by the way I forgive!” And this same Great Teacher, Jesus, said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy”.
Tolerance makes living with others possible. It’s the “stuff” of civilization, while intolerance sets up any relationship for failure. It is the “im” in “impossible”. Knock it out with another “Im”, that is “I’m tolerant.” Check out these “I wills”:
- I will not confuse what is right with what is popular.
- I will expect the same of myself as I expect of others.
- I will look for ways to help others mature.
- I will accept my own unchangeables and the unchangeables of others.
- I will listen before I form an opinion.
This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.