Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
There have been countless times I’ve judged others.
There have also been several times I've been loud and vocal about it, often talking negative behind people’s backs. When I first joined August Burns Red, I would blatantly talk bad about my band mates when they weren't around. When you live in a van with the same guys for months at a time, you butt heads. I would often say we "came from the other side of the tracks," and that's why problems arose. Each of us were raised differently, we lived diverse lives, and we viewed life, politics, and situations from polar opposite standpoints. Because of the proximity to one another, it was messy, and I was judgmental. Because I was young (and young in my faith), I didn't see I was the one who had most of the issues. I wasn't in a healthy place mentally or spiritually so I would degrade those around me to feel better.
It's easy to casts stones at others without taking an inward look at ourselves. With this passage of scripture, the men who caught this woman in the very act get to take a "holier than thou" approach. It's easy to compare yourself to scoundrels and never look inward. Often we can rationalize our own sin and behavior by saying "Well, I'm not as bad as (fill in the blank)." Except Jesus points out something clearly here:
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Human beings have a tendency to do this all the time. We gang up on those we don't understand, those who may not look like us, talk like us, act like us, feel the same for “causes,” or fit the same lifestyle. Whether publically or internally we degrade them, belittle them, condemn them and compare them to our not-so moral behavior. As Jesus points out, "You're all guilty and sin has no degree of difference."
We gang up on those we don't understand, those who may not look like us, talk like us, act like us, feel the same for “causes,” or fit the same lifestyle.
We each need to look inside and ask, am I not equal to this person? Do I not struggle? Have I not committed sins that if others found out I'd be ashamed?
Once we see ourselves in this light it humbles us, and we're able to give grace towards those stumbling and struggling. Think about how many people would feel compassion as opposed to condemnation if we took a little more time before reacting to a situation? If we remembered our own sin and how God views it no differently? I think we'd have more people dropping their stones and embracing one another, seeing the struggles we each face and knowing we're no different.
Christ is calling us to put our stones down. We're all scoundrels desperately in need of grace. Let's act accordingly.
1. Write the names of one to three people you've judged, gossiped about, or slandered. Then write what you said and where your sin was by doing so.
2. Now comes the difficult part. Pray to God for the willingness to call them and make amends. Then actually do it! Explain what you did, how it was wrong and ask forgiveness. Remember Jesus's words in Matthew 5:23-24, "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." So go and be reconciled to them.