Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
One of the shows we like to watch as a family is “Nailed It”. The show brings on people who barely cook and has them try to replicate a master chef’s creations in small amounts of time. The failures keep us and the judges laughing while the contestants take it in stride. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something in all of us that somehow gets joy when others fail. Whether it’s someone at the office, a sports team that’s doing well or a well known leader. I’ve read several articles about the psychology behind it, but no one can nail it down as to why. Ultimately, it either means we get ahead or they were not as great as we made them out to be and it makes us feel good about our own shortcomings.
In John 8, a group of religious leaders were trying to make Jesus fail while exposing a woman’s failure. They brought her into the temple getting everyone’s attention and took her straight to Jesus. They reminded Him that the Law of Moses said that they should stone this woman for adultery. With stones in their hands, they asked Him what He thought. Instead of jumping in with the rest of the crowd being excited about taking down this woman who had failed, Jesus simply started writing in the dirt. They demanded He answer. They were ready to kill her. Jesus stood up in verse 7 and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (NLT) One by one, they dropped their stones as Jesus went back to writing in the dirt. The on,y one who had the ability to throw the stone, didn’t.
Instead of throwing stones and making fun of people who have failed, we should help them find forgiveness. Instead of laughing that they got caught and were exposed, think about how you would feel if your private sins were exposed in such a manner. Galatians 6:1 tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” Instead of trying to make them feel worse or to push them further away from God, we have a responsibility to help them the way Jesus helped this woman. All of us have sinned and fall short. None of us deserve grace, yet Jesus set the example we should follow by giving it. We’re in the restoration business as Christians. Let’s act like it.
One of my biggest pet peeves while driving is people who cross the double white line to get into the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane. Every time I see someone do it, I say, “Where is a cop when you need one?” Or I yell out, “That’s illegal! You’re breaking the law!” There is a place to get on and off of the HOV lane every few miles, and people who don’t do it right deserve tickets.
I tell you that because as I was stewing over it one day, I was reminded of the story in John 8. There was a woman caught breaking the law, and the religious police brought her to Jesus. They said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (NLT) He began drawing in the sand until they demanded an answer. Jesus finally answered them by saying, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” One by one they dropped their stones and walked away.
What I didn’t tell you about my story with people crossing the double white line was that I’m usually driving around 80 mph in a 65 zone. I’m just as guilty of breaking the law as they are and just as deserving of a ticket. However, I find it easy to justify my speeding by saying, “I’m just keeping up with traffic.” We’re all pretty good at justifying our own sins and throwing stones at people who sin differently than we do. These people had stones in their hands ready to throw. They were just waiting for Jesus to give them permission.
There’s been a lot of debate and speculation as to what Jesus drew in the sand that day. I like to think he wrote out the word, “Grace”. Each of them, like each of us, had needed God’s grace for something they had done that deserved the penalty of sin. It’s time we offered grace instead of stones to people who sin differently than we do. It’s easy to condemn, but Christlike to offer grace. Those double white lines on the freeway have become a self righteous check for me. I’m learning to drop the stones in my hands, and I hope that you are too.