Zero Tolerance Vs Zealous Forgiveness 

I have previously written about the drug epidemic plaguing America; forgive me if this article begins feeling like déjà vu. America, since the 1980’s, has maintained a “zero tolerance” policy toward illicit drug use, both within the criminal justice system and the workforce. The city of Louisville (KY) is finding out this heavy handed approach comes with unintended consequences. Jobs are hard to fill due to many applicants testing positive for drugs. What if there was another way?

Admittedly, I have personally lost a job during my lifetime due to marijuana use. I am not proud of this, but it was a learning experience; one which grew my faith. I hold no resentment toward the employer, nor do I challenge their authority to administer the drug test I failed; however the resulting termination did leave me pondering. What if God had a zero tolerance policy toward sin?


The Bible tells us that God, in His infinite mercy, doesn’t have such a policy. Contrarily, He forgives those who deserve punishment, and He is willing to do so repeatedly as long as the offender is repentant. The Gospel of Matthew records the words of Jesus to His disciple, Peter, who was seeking clarity around the subject of forgiveness.

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew‬ ‭18:21-22‬ ‭

Now, at this point, one may infer I am suggesting employers repeatedly forgive drug users, only to have them take advantage of extended mercy and repeat their offense. Not so, but what I am suggesting is that grace is better than guilt. Companies offering, as some in the minority do, counseling or rehabilitation to employees addicted to drugs would be better for all involved. Some individuals may still be terminated for their drug use, but I believe many would be able to overcome their addictions and become productive members of their respective workforce and society at large if given an option of deliverance instead of discharge.

For the Christian, it doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, take long to figure out where we would all be if God did have a zero tolerance policy toward sin. Hell. Each and every person on Earth would spend eternity in torment. Oh, there will come a day when God’s mercy will cease and those who refused to repent will be dealt a swift, just punishment. But this is not the will of God.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:11-15

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16

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