Text: Judges 17:6; Prov 12:15; Luke 18:11-14: Eph 5:5-7; 2 Tim 4:5
Key Verse: Philippians 1:9-10
This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. (NIV)
At its core, “tolerance” is often little more than a rejection of moral absolutes. It is subtly becoming the same thing as “compromise.” Its advocates label those who disagree as close-minded or rigid or judgmental. There may be students in your class, who, in order to avoid being labelled any or all of these, have allowed themselves be influenced by the social views of tolerance-even to the point of error. Responding to these students in a way that is overly dogmatic and rigid r ay drive them further from biblical world view.
Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and gracious point students toward Scripture rather than publicly belittling them or pushing your personal opinions. Help them understand why we must also cling to the unchanging truths of God’s Word. As you prepare for this study, ask God to make your life a shining example of His love and compassion. Ask Him to point out any area of compromise or pride that could hinder your ministry to the teens. Open your heart once again to His forgiveness, grace, and mercy so you can sincerely share it with others.
The Basic Message: Explain to students..
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
The definition of tolerance, so popular in our culture today, often clashes with God’s standards for our lives.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
We need discernment to identity and reject influences and values that pose a danger to our commitment to Christ.
HOW DO I LIVE IT?
Learn how to respond to ungodly standards, commit to a lifestyle that pleases God, and demonstrate Christ’s love to others regardless of their lifestyles.
Activity Option: FACT OREICTION
Write the following statements on the board:
• Some books are mysteries.
• Things Fall Apart is a book.
• Things Fall Apart is a mystery.
Then discuss: How would you determine whether the third statement is true?
Guide: Explain that there are many ways to determine the truth of certain statements – e.g., libraries, textbooks, internet articles, etc. But when it comes to issues of morality, faith, and conduct, the Bible MUST be the ultimate source.
The more we study God’s Word, the more easily we’ll be able to sort out fact from fiction in our lives and in the world around us.
Study Overview: Explain that today’s study considers…
• How the notion of tolerance can be misleading.
• The role discernment plays in the life of a Christian.
• Why it is important to balance our knowledge of God’s command with His compassion for the lost.
Inform and Discuss
a). How do you respond to tolerance?
>>Guide: Point out that Jesus welcomed all kinds of people, both the sinners and the righteous. His message, however, NEVER changed.
1. Read or have a volunteer read Philp 1:9. What does love have to do with knowledge? [Hint: Our love must be balanced by wisdom and knowledge. As we express Christ like traits of compassion and graciousness, we should not blindly accept or advocate behaviours and attitudes that are in opposition to God’s character.
Guide: Read or have a volunteer read Philp 1:10. Explain that the word discern means to distinguish, recognize, or detect. Knowing God and His Word, via a growing relationship with Him, helps us to distinguish right and wrong, recognize Satan’s schemes for what they are, and detect falsehood in the world philosophies around us.
2. According to Philp 1:10, what is the primary purpose of godly knowledge? [Hint: God wants us to become discerning, pure, and blameless. He desires for us to know the truth so we can live it in the midst of a corrupt and sinful world.
3. Does that mean we shouldn’t speak out against sin? [Hint: Absolutely not. But we must be sure our words and attitudes reflect a gracious heart and a right relationship with God. Our motive must be to communicate the gospel, not drawing attention to ourselves.
b). Your lifestyle matters to God
1. Read or have a volunteer read Judges 17:6. In what ways does this sound like our world today?
Hint: During the time of the Judges, people repeatedly turned from God’s truth to pursue their own perverted plans. Today, most people are defining their morality according to their individual passions and inclinations, rejecting any suggestion that they will have to answer to God for their choices. We become most vulnerable when we choose to abandon God’s Word and Spirit in favour of doing things our own way.
2. Read or have volunteer read Prov 12:15. Name situations in which an ungodly viewpoint is touted as morally right, while biblical perspective may be seen as narrow-minded. [Note: Denying the authority of God’s Word in the name of “tolerance” is foolishness.
3. Read or have volunteer read Eph 5:5-7. Why do you think this passage warns of deception? [Hint: Satan’s biggest lie is that we can live as we desire without consequences. But the truth is that it does matter to God how we live; for He created us for a purpose. All who go their own way and refuse to turn to God will be separated from Him for eternity. Anyone who says otherwise is a deceiver, fooling themselves and others.
c). Put love into action
1. Read or have a volunteer read Luke 18:11-14. What was the Pharisee’s error? [Hint: He thought he was justified before God, but pride kept him from seeing his need for forgiveness. Though he was religious, he did not understand the heart of God.
Note: We have no room to be prideful or look down on others, regardless of their sins. We should approach non-Christian with love and humility, not haughtiness or self-righteousness.
2. Read or have a volunteer read 2 Tim 4:5. How would you respond to someone who says you’re intolerable because you believe eternal life is only available through a relationship with Christ? [Guide: Encourage students to balance their response with grace.]
Guide: Explain that, as Christians, we do have a responsibility to share the gospel with others. Though some may think it’s best to remain silent in the name of tolerance, God wants us to proclaim the name of Jesus in a gracious and humble manner. Not everyone can be a full-time minister, but we’re all called to take the good news of Christ wherever we go.
Involve Them: Brainstorm a project the class could do together that would communicate the love of Christ to the community. For instance, offer to do a work for the elderly. Make plans to carry out your project. Remind students that doing something to help others is always more effective than looking down on them.
Inspire Them: Remind students “The Basic Message” of this study (pg 86) Explain WHAT the Big Idea behind the study is; WHY it matters: and HOW We can live the lesson captured in the study.
Ministry Activity: SELF-ASSESSMENT
Encourage students to take a few minutes to reflect on their lives and consider how they usually respond to ungodliness in the world around them. Do they display a prideful, self-righteous attitude like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable? Do they hesitate to get involved for fear of being viewed as narrow-minded or intolerant? Do they adopt sinful behaviour themselves, figuring it’s no big deal since everyone else is doing it? Or do they strive to live for Christ and share His truth in a manner that is gracious, humble, and loving?
Conclude with a prayer, asking God to give students discernment and help them live out His Word daily. Also offer to pray individually with anyone who expresses a personal need.
>Teacher Hint: Ask Yourself…
1. Do students know the difference between tolerance and Christian compassion?
2. Can they explain the meaning and importance of discernment?
3. Have they been challenged to share the gospel in a gracious way?
Daily Dew Drops
Mon: Don’t Lack Sense – Proverbs 15:21
Tue: Be Discerning – Hosea 14:9
Wed: Receive Understanding – Proverbs 28:11
Thu: See from God’s Point – 1 Samuel 16:7
Fri: Understand the Times – 1 Chronicles 12:32
Sat: He Is Nearer than Ever – Matthew 24:32-33
PS: I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you could drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.
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