Condemnation or compassion

If you have ever been around children then you know they typically have a problem with being tattletales. They are so worried about everyone else who is doing wrong and they feel the need to bring it to everyone’s attention. The funny thing is that they never tell on themselves.

I’m not sure that we ever really grow out of that. We constantly look for the bad in others and want to point it out. If it is someone of importance, then we really want to make sure everyone sees their sin. What I’ve learned is that Jesus didn’t subscribe to this way of thinking. When a crowd brought a woman caught in adultery and wanted Him to condemn her, His response was the opposite.

The example He set teaches us a few things.

1. Don’t be quick to condemn

The crowd of people paraded this woman through the city square and announced to everyone what she had done and what the punishment for her sin was. I’m sure it started with the person who caught her and as he took her through the streets a crowd gathered with him. They may or may not have known the woman, but they knew the crime and wanted to participate in her punishment.

Jesus didn’t get worked up over it. They demanded that He answer them if they were right in what her punishment should be. He just looked at the ground and began to draw. His thought out response was a lot better than the mob reaction we typically exhibit. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, He simply compared the grace they wanted for their sins with the punishment they wanted to give to her for her sin.

2. Put down your rocks

When Jesus did respond to them, he said, “Let he who is without sin, throw the first stone at her.” His response should make each of us look at our own lives. We shouldn’t be so concerned that someone else isn’t getting it right. We should give the same amount of grace we expect from others.

Galatians 6:1 says that if someone sins, we should go and restore them. It’s hard for someone to accept your offer of restoration when you have a rock in your hand. We need to put down our rocks of criticism and go to them in gentleness as the scripture says. They know they’ve done wrong. God’s job is to convict. Ours is to help restore them and to provide a path to recovery.

3. Offer forgiveness

Jesus offered forgiveness time and time again to those who the Pharisees thought didn’t deserve it. He is our example of what we should be doing. Too many times I have been guilty of pronouncing judgement instead of offering forgiveness. I’ve realized that in my life Jesus has always pointed out my sin and offered forgiveness. Why should I act differently?

If we are serious about winning the lost, we need to be more effective in how we help people come to grips with their sin and need for a savior. I’ve found that building relationships with people and not being afraid to admit my sins or hide my scars from sins works well. Judgement turns people away while forgiveness draws them in.

If you find yourself in a mob and you have rocks of hateful words in your hands ready to be hurled, stop for a minute, draw in the sand and think through how Jesus would respond. How did he respond to you? How would you want to be treated if you were in their shoes? Allow God to do His work which is to convict and be prepared to do your part to show forgiveness and to bring restoration.


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3 responses to “Condemnation or compassion

  1. So, how would you like to jump into a group (I hope, eventually!) Bible study where that kind of interpretation would be welcome?

    I’m not sure about the part about God being in the ‘conviction’ racket. My own take is that judgment is something God really only does ‘by popular demand’. Evaluation, critiques, strongly-worded [if it takes a 2X4 to get a human-form mule’s attention] suggestions for improvement, yes. Because good Fathers don’t let their kids burn their house down! But to want people locked up… or wallowing in guilt… sounds more appropriate to vulnerable, and fearful, human beings.

    • Thanks for stopping by and providing input. I believe that God is the one who convicts us of our sins because in John 16, Jesus said that when He went away, He would send the Holy Spirit to us to convict us. I don’t believe God is up there just waiting for us to mess up so He can “lock us up” or make us “wallow in guilt”. It is designed to draw us into a right relationship with Him. One of the tenets of the Christian faith is that man is born into sin because of the fall of Adam. Because of that, we are in need of a savior. The Spirit convicts us (points out a change we need to make) and draws us to repentance and into relationship with the Father.

      • The trouble with “tenets of the Christian faith” is that it potentially imposes a different standard than “what’s true” or “what Jesus actually said” or “what Jesus meant” — or even “how does this make sense to our own best efforts”? Jesus himself evidently got by with ~’It’s really like this.’

        Refering to “tenets of” seems to imply we should aspire to what some expert interpreter believes that “right relationship with Him” ought to look like — as opposed to directly asking, “Hey Boss, how can this work? What now?”

        My take on your piece of John 16: “If I do not go away, your advocate will not come, whereas if I go, I will send him to you…”

        == ~”If I stayed with you, you would keep on looking for God in somebody external — but when I’m no longer a distracting physical presence, you’ll be able to see God at work in yourselves.” The ‘world’ and its ways then are necessarily seen as ‘condemned’ via direct observation. This is not necessarily a condemnation of persons — nor should it be. The Accuser and ‘his’ systems rightly stand condemned because they fail to recognize Christ in human beings, & thereby come to condemn the innocent.

        Or so it looks, from here.

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