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What Do You Tolerate In Your Marriage?

What do you tolerate in your marriage? This is part 4 of 7 in our series on what Jesus would say to our marriage. If Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation were used as an evaluation of your marriage, what challenges would he have for you? What words of encouragement might you hear?

The word tolerate means “to put up with something even if you might not agree with it. To tolerate is to allow something’s existence without interference.” As a word, tolerance is thrown around a lot today Often it is used in an effort to get acceptance of something which may be unacceptable to us or our values.

This post is specifically focusing on things that we allow into our marriage which have no place, but we tolerate. We allow them to remain even when they cause harm to our union with the one whom we vowed to love, honor, and cherish.

The Context

The first person the Apostle Paul led to faith in Jesus was a woman from Thyatira named Lydia who sold purple cloth for a living. The church in Thyatira was located in the smallest city to which the seven letters were addressed. Though this church was located in the smallest city, they received the longest letter to the seven churches. Thyatira was a blue-collar type of city. They had all kinds of trades which were represented by guilds and unions. Most notably, they were known for their work with bronze and textiles. It’s interesting that the description of Jesus in this letter pictures him as having feet of burnished bronze—something that would resonate with them.

To belong to the guilds and unions usually meant participation in the worship of patron gods, sacred feasts, and immorality. Christians chose to tolerate participation in these activities as part of life, a way to survive, but missed the sinister forces at work behind the scenes pulling them from Jesus. They had chosen to tolerate what was wrong and not take a stand for what was right.

“You Are Doing More Now Than You Did At First”

You aren’t satisfied with where you began in your marriage. You want to grow, stretch, and learn. You are well-intended in your efforts to improve your marriage. To you who have “moved the needle,” “brought the ball down the court,” “moved the chains down the field”—Jesus would say, “I’m proud of you. You have worked on your marriage. You’ve learned. You have applied what you have learned. You aren’t where you once were. Well done.”

“You tolerate…”

HOWEVER…Jesus tells the church in Thyatira that they are tolerating Jezebel who has infiltrated the church with teaching and influence. Jezebel was an ancient queen whom you can read more about in 1 Kings 16-19 in your Bible. Basically, she was diametrically opposed to anything having to do with God or good. She was pure evil. Jesus is painting the picture that the Christians in Thyatira have allowed evil into their midst to influence them and significantly impact the health of their faith.

What have you allowed into your marriage that is evil? This isn’t about legalism and a list of dos and don’ts. It’s about discernment and decisions. What is right or wrong? What is pure or evil? What are you tolerating in your life and marriage that is from the Enemy of marriage?

A gutsy step you can take is to simply pray a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you places where you have tolerated what is evil. Ask where you have chosen to tolerate things that erode your marriage.

Here are a few quick thoughts:

  • Ascribing to your spouse motives that aren’t true.
  • Choosing to remain angry/unforgiving when you know to let it go.
  • Watching movies or shows that are not honoring to God (what if Jesus was watching with you? Hint: He is!).
  • Reading books or magazines that draw your imagination and/or affections to others.
  • Friends whose influence pulls us away from godly thinking and choices

When you know what you’ve tolerated in your marriage that is evil, get rid of it RIGHT AWAY! Don’t wait, don’t dawdle, don’t worry. God will honor your decision and guide you into the next steps. He is a good God who loves both of you.

“I have given…time”

When we think we are getting away with something, we are actually just living in the window of God’s patience as he waits for us to be convicted and repent. He gives time…but then he brings his judgment on those who aren’t Christ-followers and discipline on those who are.

God won’t be mocked. He wants our relationship with him to be intimate, holy, pure, and restored.

Whatever it is that you have tolerated, choose right now—together—to stop those influences in the name of Jesus. Go to any measures necessary to repent (turn) and do what is honoring of Jesus.

“Hold on to what you have”

These words were written to the minority who had not tolerated the world’s ways, but stayed true in their relationship with Jesus and each other. To you Jesus would say, “You have been strong and chosen well. You are staying faithful and refuse to tolerate evil. I will bless you and keep you.”

What do you see couples tolerate in marriage from which they need to turn? Take proactive steps now to build your marriage!