The Most Misunderstood Word in America

The Most Misunderstood Word in America

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
—Matthew 5:16

If you listen to the voices around you, you will conclude that tolerance is the most important character quality anyone can develop. The conviction that all beliefs are equally valid is celebrated as the highest ideal in our culture. And that is not by accident. Many educators today believe that encouraging tolerance of all beliefs and behaviors is the highest educational goal. As a result, our culture elevates tolerance over truth.

The effort to embrace tolerance has led to an increasing acceptance of beliefs and behaviors once thought morally wrong, such as homosexuality, divorce, and cohabitation. However, I’m not as concerned with the general public’s embracing of religious beliefs and behaviors we find objectionable. I am more concerned about the effect that relativism is having on Christians.

Relativism says everything is right sometimes and nothing is right every time. What is the net result of Christians embracing relativism? When we buy into relativism we lose any motivation to stand against the tide of immorality that is sweeping our country. When Christians lose their motivation to be restrainers of evil—because they no longer believe the behaviors are evil—it’s only a short time until society crumbles under the weight of its own sin. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” When Christians embrace relativism they lose their distinctive taste; they lose their saltiness. And relativism also diminishes our light as Christians. Remember, we’re to be the preservative pushing back, delaying evil. But we’re also to be light pointing people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. “You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (vv. 14, 16).

Another result of believing that all religions offer an equally valid path to God is a loss of motivation to try to point people to faith in Jesus Christ. Why risk offending somebody about their religious beliefs if you believe their religion is just as valid as your religion? Why go across the sea or even across the street with the message of Jesus if everybody is going to heaven anyway? Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 5:15 when He said not to put your light “under a basket.” You don’t light a light and then put a bowl over it where nobody can see the light. Yet when we buy into relativism, the idea that all religions are equally valid, we are effectively placing a bowl over our light. We are hiding the light of the gospel.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Most Misunderstood Word in America” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.