They dragged her before the judge and with snarling smiles chimed, “She deserves to die.”
Unfaithfulness was the charge. Perhaps her first time. In the heat of the moment, she gave into a temptation she would otherwise have never considered. Perhaps it was her lifestyle, and now she had been caught. The penalty was death by stoning. After the conviction, her accusers—followed by anyone else who wanted to join the massacre, would gather stones and pummel her body until it lay motionless in the dust.
Knowing the possibilities, she cowered before the judge as her tears massaged the dust at his naked feet. Her accusers badgered him for an answer, so he gave one: He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first (John 8:7 NKJV). “What,” they smirked, “a judge who won’t enforce the law?” But before they could challenge his decision, their consciences overruled and they disappeared one by one.
Jesus had the unique ability to do what I struggle with—separating the sin from the sinner and judging one without condemning the other. I tend to get them mixed up, and so do many other good Christian folks I’ve met. My stares, condescending attitude, unforgiveness, avoidance, and supper table conversation all betray I’ve not mastered his attitude.
Jesus didn’t condone sin, but neither did he condemn the person. He knew his Father had created them in his image and that they had the potential to be a masterpiece in the making. Sin is sin and must be labeled as such, but the one doing it is worthy of my love and respect.
Instead of judging those who’ve fallen into sin, tell them how God’s love and forgiveness can rescue them from a life of dead ends.
Prayer: When we’re tempted to judge first and love later, move us merciful Father to reverse the order.
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