“Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, ‘The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.’ Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. ‘Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?’
‘No one, master.’
‘Neither do I,’ said Jesus. ‘Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.’”
It is so easy to judge others. Even though we smile and appear friendly on the outside, our inner talk can be quite ugly.
“Look at that cake she’s eating, and she is already so overweight. Get a grip, girl!”
“God, I know he is successful at work, but why does he have to brag about it all the time? He should be renamed ‘Captain Me-Planet.’”
“What reason does she have to look so depressed all the time? What a downer. I know, for a fact, that my life has been tougher than hers. Lighten up. Enjoy your life already!”
“Everybody thinks he’s a good guy, but I know the truth. I’ve been on business trips with him. While his beautiful wife and kids are back at home, he enjoys the ladies. What a jerk!”
This woman had clearly been found breaking the Jewish law. Two thousand years ago, there was no grace for a lady who cheated on her husband. This patriarchal society had every right to stone her to death. The religious rulers of the time, the Pharisees, wanted to catch Jesus doing something wrong. So, they dragged the woman through the city gates and threw her at the feet of Jesus. “The Law of Moses orders us to stone such persons. What do you say?”
We would expect for the Son of God, someone so pure, to be repulsed by her sin. They may have even hoped that such a holy being would hurl the first stone. Once again, Jesus surprised us. He didn’t fall into the trap–the rules of Judaism–but instead answered with love and grace.
Jesus reminded the crowd of perfect religious rule followers, that sin is sin. Sin is ANYTHING that separates us from a holy God. It may be cheating on your husband or something far simpler–cheating on your taxes. It can also be speaking poorly, behind the back, of a person that God cherishes. Even when our life’s main loves are success and wealth, rather than people and God, we are guilty of creating a chasm.
Due to our history and personal inclinations, we all sin differently. But our sin is no better than anyone else’s. Why? Because there are a million ways to allow something dark to shadow us from the light of God.
The next time you catch yourself inwardly judging the actions or life of another, take a moment. Step back, and instead of figuring out what is wrong with their life, unrelentlessly search for any trace of darkness in yours.
And remember: it doesn’t matter what you do. Jesus sits there, drawing in the sand, waiting for you to come so he can say these words, “Thank you for coming home. I don’t condemn you like the others do. Go on with the life I gifted you, and sin no more.”
This song is one of the classics that everyone knows. Take a moment and think about the words. If God no longer condemns you, stop condemning yourself. Go and be free!
I dedicate this series of devotional writings to my grandfather, Roger Crowell, who passed away on March 31. He was the ultimate lover of devotional books. He had an unbreakable habit of waking up every morning and connecting with God through the writings of others.
Pa, I am glad you are now constantly in His presence.
Love, Your granddaughter — Olivia Puccini