Don’t Throw Stones
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Psalms 25:8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
Recently I have developed a renewed amazement of the grace of God. I think it is because God knows I need a softening of my heart towards people who stand opposed to Jesus Christ in our culture. It is so easy to become antagonistic towards those who don’t believe the truth and to become arrogant about the truth that we have. But a story from the life of Jesus has really impacted me.
It’s the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and brought to Jesus by the Pharisees. They were setting a trap for Him. If Jesus agreed with the law and approved of the woman’s stoning to death, then they could renounce His authority for misinterpreting the Old Testament law that clearly states that both people caught in adultery were to be killed. If He refused to sentence her to death, they could accuse Him of not abiding by the law.
What would Jesus do?
After a short pause to play in the sand (actually He was writing something in the dirt) Jesus told all of the woman’s accusers that the judgment of death could only be imposed by those who were sinless themselves. “Let the one who has no sin cast the first stone,” were His words to the crowd. They all walked away in shame. Jesus then turned to the woman and asked her where her accusers went. “Has no one condemned you?” When she responded that no one had condemned her, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin.”
What an incredible example of grace. What a model for us to follow in how we treat those who are caught up in the bondage of sin. Jesus had every right to condemn her and cast the first stone. He was sinless. But He extended grace to her, and only then did He instruct her to stop sinning.
Grace first – then growth.
It is that same grace that David recognized in Psalm 25:8 – the grace of God that teaches sinners His ways. This just thrills me to the core of my spirit. God initiates grace to us while we are still sinners and teaches us His ways. We do not make ourselves worthy of His teaching. We do not have to grow to a certain spiritual level to earn the right to be taught. No, God meets us where we are and extends grace to us so that we may know Him and have a relationship with Him that will produce growth.
God never requires works before He extends grace.
Now if we could just learn to do that with our peers – the sinners around us every day.
When Jesus told the crowd that the sinless person could cast the first stone, He did not categorize the sin. He didn’t say that the one who had never committed adultery could cast the first stone. He said that the one who had no sin whatsoever was the only one qualified to condemn another person for their sin. That makes all of us equal at the foot of the cross.
That should and must change the way that we look at the sinful people of the world – they are our peers.
We are not superior.
We have a superior Savior, but we are sinners saved by God’s grace, and but for His grace we would be in the chains of sin as they are.
We must stop demanding that people change before they have experienced the grace of God. We are expending a lot of human energy without the strength of the Holy Spirit’s presence when we try to change our government, our culture, our schools, our workplaces, and people’s lives so that they become conformed to the ways of God before they have personally and individually experienced the grace of God. It is only after being told that they are no longer condemned that they are to be told to stop sinning.
Think about how this should affect your attitude towards people still trapped in sin. They are not the offender who needs to be punished – they are the victim who needs to be set free. When we start looking at people as victims of Satan’s lies, deception, and spiritual bondage, then we will be able to extend grace to them rather than condemnation.
It is time for the Christian Church to change the way it relates to the people of its culture. It is possible that we have earned the bad name that society has given us. We are at times intolerant – because under the guise of hating sin we have acted like we hate the sinner. I know it’s a difficult and almost impossible task to love the person and still hate the sin, but Jesus did it.
And do you know how he did it? He always showed love before he addressed the sin. Maybe that’s our problem. We start with the sin and then try to show that we love the person anyway.
Start with the love of Jesus, and don’t bring up the sin until they want to know where the love comes from. Then we can tell them that the love comes from God who forgave us for our sin and continues to do so. Then people will they see us living out the grace of God before we pick up the stones to condemn them?
O LORD, may we grow in grace so that the love of Jesus is truly seen in us.