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Biblical Tolerance: Compassion for the Lost

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Use these age-appropriate activities to help teach kids about biblical tolerance.

“Everyone has a right to his own opinion.”

“What people do in private is their business.”

“Different religions are simply different ways to God.”

Secular culture wants our children to believe all opinions are valid, to approve all lifestyles and to treat all behaviors as acceptable. Your children will feel pressure to conform to this worldview. So how do you teach them to respond?

You can teach your children biblical tolerance — a valuable virtue that will serve your children throughout life. Worldly tolerance says: There are no rules, so don’t judge others’ choices. Biblical tolerance says: I will share God’s truth with others in gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

In Scripture, tolerance is linked with love — agape love, the selfless kind. For example, Ephesians 4:2 urges us to show “tolerance for one another in love” (NASB). Tolerance starts with being others-centered rather than self-centered. When someone with an unbiblical opinion or lifestyle confronts you or your child, restrain feelings to retaliate or put the person down. Your children will best learn tolerance as they watch you.

Biblical tolerance is based on seeing others as lost. They deserve our compassion. When you look at people this way, you can listen to them and treat them with openness and respect, even though you disagree with them. Biblical tolerance also allows you to share truth with gentleness.

Let’s face it: God puts up with a lot from us — our poor choices, our wrong opinions about Him, our failures. Certainly, we should be able to do the same for others.

Of course, biblical tolerance does have boundaries: We are not to excuse sin or falsehood or embrace ungodly behaviors. But when properly applied, tolerance brings the peace of God.

The following activities and discussions are designed to help you talk with your kids about biblical tolerance. Whether they’re preschoolers, teenagers or somewhere in between, your kids can learn to show tolerance toward all people.

— Larry Fowler

Key Points

  • Tolerance is a biblical virtue, but it is different than the world’s understanding of tolerance./li>
  • Biblical tolerance treats others with respect and compassion.
  • Biblical tolerance shares the truth with gentleness.

Family Memory Verse

Hebrews 12:14
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

Scripture Study

For a more in-depth look at biblical tolerance, read these Bible passages:

  • John 4:4-26
  • John 8:1-11
  • Acts 17:22-24
  • Romans 12:9-21
  • Colossians 3:12-17

Preschool Activity
School-Age Activity
Tween Activity
Time With Your Teen
More Family Devotions


Preschool Activity

Have your child pretend to be a naughty pet. He could be a cat scratching the furniture or a dog barking too much.

Explain that when pets don’t know that what they are doing is wrong, the gentle pet owner must guide them in a loving way. As your child continues his pretend play, you can act out the role of the pet owner. Give the “cat” a scratching post to use instead of the furniture or play fetch with the barking “dog.” Pat the animal on the head and scratch him behind the ears.

Explain to your child that some people don’t know the truth about Jesus. Like the animal that didn’t know right from wrong, there are people who do not know the truth about Jesus and His love for them. Make sure to stress that people who do not know Jesus are people like us — not animals. Remind your child that if we are gentle with animals, we should be that much more gentle and loving with people. Tell your child that to show God’s love, we should treat others with kindness and respect.

Judy Parker


School-age Activity

When your child isn’t watching, wind three long pieces of yarn through the main level of your home — over tables, along the floor and around the furniture. Each one should end at a different location: Have one of the lines end at a treat and the other two at dead ends. Encourage your child to follow each of the strands to see how many treats he can find.

Afterward, talk about how there was only one right way to the prize. Ask: “How did you feel when you followed the strands that led to dead ends?” He may express feelings of disappointment and surprise because he expected a treat at the end of each option. Then say: “Now imagine that a friend of yours was here, and he could only choose one strand. How would you feel if he chose the wrong way?” Your child may talk about feeling bad for his friend who didn’t get a treat or wanting to help his friend find the right way.

Explain that the Bible says there is only one way to have a relationship with God. John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” Some people believe there are other ways to God, but each of those ways leads to a dead end. Encourage your child to respond with compassion when others choose a “dead end.” Then talk about ways he can tell others how to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

—Suzanne Gosselin


Tween Activity

Have a make-your-own-sundae night to help your tweens understand the importance of biblical tolerance. You’ll need your favorite ice cream with the usual toppings, as well as a few other items that your family would never dream of putting on their sundaes. Diced onions, soy sauce, mustard — be creative!

Call your family in for dessert. Put the ice cream and all the toppings on the table as if nothing were unusual. Then invite your children to dig in. As your kids build their sundaes, dramatically “encourage” them to try the new toppings. Offer to top them with a spoonful of black olives or a dash of ketchup. When they’ve refused, make your own small dessert with one or two of the “wrong” toppings. Can you keep a straight face for a bite or two?

When the surprise of the moment has passed, tell your tweens that you were using that night’s dessert as a way to remember the principle of biblical tolerance. Tell them that while God probably isn’t too concerned about what goes on our ice cream, He does have a design for our lives. Some decisions are right. Some are wrong. Ask your kids:

  • How did you react when I threatened to “ruin” your ice cream with strange toppings? Was your reaction gentle or harsh?
  • Can you describe a situation in which you had a similar response to someone’s wrong actions or beliefs?

Tell your kids that our culture pressures us to believe that all opinions and lifestyles are valid — that it is intolerant to believe that some things are right or wrong. Explain that the Bible calls us to a different worldview. Right and wrong are real. But we are not to treat those who are lost with judgment and retaliation, but rather compassion and love. We do share truth, but with gentleness.

Read Romans 12:9-21. Ask:

  • How does God want us to treat those who clearly don’t share our biblical values?
  • What does it mean to “overcome evil with good?” Does it feel possible?
  • What are some specific ways you can respond in situations where people do not share your values and lifestyle?

—Vance Fry


Time With Your Teen

As their independence grows, teens quickly encounter situations that conflict with their biblical worldview. This is often evident in social settings, such as school or sports, where truth is no longer seen as absolute, temptations override morality and God is defined by personal preference. Your teen’s views on premarital sex, sanctity of life, spirituality and more will come under scrutiny.

Your teen may feel put on the spot or defensive. And she will most likely feel pressure to conform. Help her work through these feelings from a new perspective — one that focuses on compassion for those who do not know God. Because biblical tolerance is not the same as acceptance, she can stand firmly in her knowledge of the truth while respectfully coming alongside those who cannot see to the truth.

Have your teen list the various mindsets and lifestyles she witnesses in everyday life. Now ask her to investigate and share with you what the Bible has to say about those issues. It may reassure her to know that, while these issues and the accompanying pressures are new to her, they do not surprise God. Show your teen scripturally why you believe what you believe, teaching biblical tolerance based on love. Discuss the power of love expressed in body language and tone of voice when sharing the truth with others. Help your teen explore ways she could show God’s love to someone who opposes the truth.

Keep in mind that the best learning is more caught than taught. Model tolerance for your teen by knowing what you believe while extending gentleness and respect for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

—Lynn Cowell

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With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!