“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” – John 8:7. This scripture is John’s account of the adulterous woman facing death by stoning by self-appointed judges (Pharisee’s) intent on carrying out the sentence their law required.
This is one of the things I struggle with in life, and one I clearly stand guilty as charged with. I am quick to judge, and it is not my place to judge. The requirements to be a judge of other people starts with being appointed to the office. In our country’s judicial system, judges are not self-appointed. Thank goodness for that.
In reading the above account from the Gospel of John (in context, versus 1-11 of chapter 8), I recognize myself in the role of the Pharisee. I often find myself wanting to judge others of the sin they have committed, but think little of my own. Christ tells me otherwise. He tells me I am not qualified to judge sinners if I myself am a sinner. Truly, only He meets the qualifications necessary to judge sinners.
Proverbs 14:21 tells us “He who despises his neighbor sins”. We are called to be in community with one another and to love one another and to reject that is a sin. Jesus also teaches us in Luke 17:1 “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” This certainly presents us with a paradox – how do we NOT reject the sinner, but at the same time reject sin?
Usually I find myself letting the second half of this paradox rule, and that is the trap of sin. While I am passionate about seeing God’s laws being kept, I forget that I am to be forgiving and loving of others just as Christ was even when they are committing sin. I also tend to forget one other rather important point… I am a sinner as well (no better than anyone else), and it is not my place to judge others.
When this person is someone we know personally, we are expected to talk with them about the issue and (with love) hold them accountable, and take our (now mutual) issue to others for help if it remains unresolved. But when this is someone we don’t know personally, we don’t have that option and we can only pray for their forgiveness (and certainly not for their condemnation).
Jesus wasn’t afraid to get into the mess of relationships with people, and He certainly did not back down from His Father’s law. He expects us to do the same. It won’t be easy. If you are like me, guilty as charged of being judgmental –AND- being a sinner as well, you will need His help in overcoming this sin. Join me in praying that God will forgive us of our transgressions and to help us to forgive others.