I have a lot to do today. When I’m overwhelmed with tasks that need to be accomplished, I create a “to-do” list. I know, I should do something like that every day, but I usually have a set list. Today, I have a bunch of stuff to do! Looking at the list, though, I wonder if I should also make up a “to-don’t” list. Perhaps number one on that “to-don’t” list would be social media. What’s really cool about this idea, though, is that if I were to give people an open invitation to put thing on my “to-don’t” list, it would be filled in an instant. There are always people around to tell me what not to do, or, worse yet, what I’m doing wrong. Sometimes, I ask for that advice. I’ve used beta readers to look at my books. I had a one on one mentoring session with a famous author. Sometimes though, people just like to criticize. Often, their criticism is based on their “better” understanding of religious beliefs.
The Pharisees had a long list of do’s and don’ts. They had laws governing every aspect of behavior. To be fair, they tried to base them on the Scriptures and some of those laws are great guidelines for life. One of those laws had to do with adultery. The family is the most important unit of society and adultery will destroy families. It was a big no-no and when the Pharisees caught a woman in adultery, they made a beeline for Jesus because this way they could trap Him. He would either agree with them, and thus validate their position as religious leaders, or He would disagree with them and be seen as attacking Scripture. Only Jesus took another tack. He made the Pharisees agree with Him. “Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’” (John 8:10-11)
This woman was caught in one of those big sins. Those sins that call for the death penalty by stoning. The death penalty back then involved audience participation. Sure, the Romans didn’t let the Jews carry such penalties out, but the Pharisees had their case. This wench, this homewrecker, this hussy was caught committing adultery. Her partner, of course, wasn’t included. The poor, innocent guy had no chance when this temptress ran into him. It was all her fault. As the Pharisees stood there, calling for blood, Jesus made a remarkable statement. “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” The older, wiser ones realized that they didn’t fit the bill, dropped their stones, and walked away first. Then the younger ones followed. Both groups realized that if sinlessness was the basis for condemning others, they didn’t meet the qualifications. Jesus responded by telling her that He wouldn’t condemn her, and He urged her to stop her sinning. He treated her with grace.
These days we see lots of people with verbal stones. Whenever you have a large gathering of people someone will be there preaching at the mob, letting them know that God hates them. They yell through their bull horns at the people in the crowd, pointing out their sins and how God will punish them. I saw a group like that in action, recently. They let people know how much God hated their sins, how much God hated them, and how much God was going to enjoy destroying them. They made it hard to share about Christ, because they defined Christ for others there. “Oh, you’re a Christian? Like those guys yelling at us on the street corner?” They, like Jonah, seemed almost joyful in the hope that God would destroy them, forgetting that we live in the time of Jesus whose words would compel them to put down their stones. We live in the time of grace where Jesus died on the cross for each and every sin these Pharisees yelled at others about. We should put down our stones and show people the grace of God.
Lord, remind me that no sin people commit has ever surprised You. Help me to show Your grace to all.