by: FCC Staff
Sitting in judgment of others is a dangerous pastime. Today’s proverb tells us that not only are we in trouble when we condemn those we should not, justifying those who have no right to be justified before God is just as harmful.
This practice often comes down to painting our opinions with a broad brush: All these kinds of people are this, all that kind of people are like that. We condemn or justify without any personal knowledge of the individual situations that people find themselves in. Jesus taught us how this works quite well when dealing with someone caught in sin:
“but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 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.” (John 8:1-10)
Jesus did not condemn this woman, nor did he justify her actions. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” For her it was a simple choice, repent and go free. If she continued in her sin or not, we do not know. But if she chose sin then she chose death. If repentance, a chance at a new life. Neither did Jesus condemn the people who brought the accusations, nor justify them.
Again, we don’t know what Jesus wrote in the dust that day, and many people like to speculate. But we do know that there were specific commands in the Law of Moses on how to deal with adultery, and the men who brought this woman to be judged by Jesus were not following them. Perhaps he wrote the actual commands in the dust. Perhaps he was writing a shopping list. We don’t know.
Perhaps he was showing the Pharisees he understood their traditions just as well if not better than they did. If this day was a sabbath it would be wrong to permanently write anything down. That was work. No, no the Pharisees would say. Jesus wrote in the dust, that wasn’t permanent writing sooooo… it was ok even by the legalistic standards the Pharisees would apply. What we do know, is that he wisely demonstrated how one can uphold truth, without sitting in judgment.
Was the woman guilty? Sure, that isn’t even disputed. Where was the man, who would also have been guilty with her? Oh that’s not important? Justice wasn’t the goal of the men who brought her, but to catch Jesus in a bad situation: The Law of Moses said she was to die. The law of Rome said they didn’t have the right to execute her. What would Jesus do? These men thought they had Jesus in a corner. Jesus pointed out that before God, they were not blameless. And if they had the courage to do so they could throw the first stone and test their righteousness before God and the patience of Rome themselves. What? No takers? What a surprise.
So it takes a lot of wisdom to neither justify the wicked, nor condemn the righteous. But with Jesus’ example and guidance, it is possible. So today let’s allow Jesus to teach us this wisdom, so we, like him, can show God’s love and mercy, while still upholding his word and his truth.
Prayer for Today
Father, guide me in my walk before you today. Show me the path of wisdom and righteousness for your name’s sake. Jesus by your Holy Spirit teach me how to be wise, siding with truth and proclaiming your peace. Lead me in your victory today Lord, that I my do your will. Amen.