In John 8, the religious leaders brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the act of adultery. They threw her at His feet and said, “The law says we should stone her. What do you say?” The law was clear. She was guilty. One thing I love about Jesus is that He treated people as more important than religious rules. In the Old Testament, God gave Ten Commandments, but the religious leaders turned them into over two thousand laws. When Jesus came, He said in effect, “I’m getting rid of these heavy demands you put on people. All they do is make people feel guilty and condemned. There are two great commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.’” Jesus was saying that if we convince people to follow all your rules but you don’t have love, we’re just a loud clanging cymbal.
I don’t want to be known for what I’m against. I want to be known for what I’m for. I’m for people, for restoration, for second chances, for mercy. I’m not in the condemning business. I’m in the loving business, the healing business. I want to be known as someone who sees the best in people and pushes them toward their destiny, as someone who is willing to get dirty, to help messy people who have been written off by society. When you love people who are messy, don’t be surprised if you’re criticized, talked about, looked down on.
This lady was on the ground, afraid, embarrassed, expecting the worst. Jesus spoke to her condemners and said, “Whoever is without sin, throw the first stone.” The men all looked down, feeling convicted, and walked away. When you’re tempted to be judgmental of someone else, ask yourself, “Have I ever done wrong? Am I qualified to throw the first stone?” None of us are. Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No man, Lord.” He said, “Neither do I. Now go and sin no more.” Notice how grace shows up in the most unusual places. Grace for someone who’s committed adultery, grace for my neighbor who’s off course.
Why don’t you go after someone who’s made mistakes and is hurting? Nobody is has made too many mistakes. Sometimes all they need is one person to believe in them and say, “I’m praying for you,” one person to breathe new life back into their spirit. They may be on the ground now, but you can be the one to help them receive grace and stand back up.