“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. How I act out everything I believe hinges on these two commandments. -Amber C. Haines, Wild in the Hollow
I heard a story recently of a group of God-loving individuals who were wronged by one of the members of their group. The deed that had been done against the group directly affected everyone and was morally wrong from both a world and Christian viewpoint. I heard how the leader of the group felt justified in shaming the individual for all to know and how one by one the members of the group felt justified in breaking off all ties with the guilty individual not only from the group, but from their friendship with the member.
Oh how quick we are to pick up our stones.
I was reminded when hearing this story of the adulteress woman. How the Pharisees dragged her out in front of everyone when she was caught red-handed and threw her before Jesus, asking him what he thought her sentence should be. The law of old was to stone her for such an act, so the Pharisees felt justified in shaming her and picked up their stones to kill her.
Justified: 1. Having a good or legitimate reason. 2. Declared righteous in the sight of God
Righteous: 1. Morally right. 2. Very good.
Self Righteous: Characterized by a certainty that one is totally correct or morally superior.
Judge: To form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought. 2. To regard someone as either good or bad.
Justifiable sin is truly the best kind of sin. Because what THEY are doing is wrong. Obviously. So I pick up my stone and judge. Because I have a legitimate reason to pick up my stone (justified). Because what they are doing is not morally right (not righteous). Because I am morally superior (self righteous). Because I have put careful thought into what THEY are doing and it is wrong (judge)!
There is always a THEY with this justifiable sin. We just love feeling like we are better than the other “not classy” people over there. We conjure up a list of why we are better: Slept with only one person. Go to church every Sunday. Never had an addiction. Have an upstanding job. Don’t wear trashy, provocative clothes. Feed my kids all organic food. Attracted to the right sex. Have nicer stuff. Are not overweight.
The irony in all of this, is that I went from judging the supposed “not classy” people, to judging the supposed “classy” people. Because I was no longer judging the “not classy” people anymore, my justifiable sin was then feeling like I was better than all the supposed “classy people” who still were judging others with the Word of God in their hands. Basically I just took the stone and tossed it from my left hand to my right hand.
I can come up with a slew of faces that I feel are morally incorrect. That I should be justified in considering myself to be better than or even to condemn. I’m sure you can too.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone...” -Jesus
So I sit on Jesus’ lap and yell, “But Jesus, they are totally out of line! They have hurt me so bad! What they are doing/have done is totally wrong by the world’s standards and YOUR word! They are totally misrepresenting You! They are not a good people! I should have the right to throw the stone!”
And then He grabs my hand, and I feel the holes. The holes that remind me that my sin pierced Him to a cross. When I look deep in those holes I remember that in judging others I am the one totally out of line. How else do I know what out of line is other than having crossed that line constantly? That I have hurt others so bad. That I have done things undeniably wrong. That I misrepresent Him all the time.
You know when you are similar to someone else and instead of that uniting you it annoys the crap out of you? Like you both are dominant personalities, so you rub each other the wrong way. Or you both are intense planners, but you never seem to have the same plan. Or you both really love to cook, but struggle to cook in the same kitchen because your process is different. I think that’s how this whole judging others thing goes to. It’s like, we see the wickedness, emptiness, desires, wrong motives, lack of love, laziness...etc. And we know exactly how that fruit tastes because we have that same nasty in us. We get it. And yet instead of sympathizing or having compassion we choose to pick up our stones.
I know for a fact I will always struggle to love the self righteous Christian, because I am the self righteous Christian. I’ll always struggle to love and not pick up a stone instead.
All the sudden, I’m not the Pharisee anymore, I’m the woman on the ground. Breathing in dust, sweat, and tears. Mortified I am caught. Mortified at where my desires have led me. Adulterous to a Savior so worthy of my love. Worthy of condemnation.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Jesus whispers in my ear. I look around and all that was righteous and justified in putting me to death has cleared out. The stone wasn’t theirs to hold. The only stone my Jesus is in the business of is the one He pushed away from his tomb and in doing so redefining death and life for me.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”