When I was a little girl, I was never known for being neat or organized. My room was usually messy. I often remember being sent to the room, my sister and I shared, to clean. As her side was rarely dirty, you could easily tell who lived where. I used to drive her nuts. The task would seem so daunting and I would spend, what seemed like, hours procrastinating and whining. Using my time to merely move a few things around.
The funny thing is, I distinctly remember cheerfully helping several of my friends clean their rooms. As I went to their house, knowing full well, that we had to clean before playing. Somehow, it was always easier to identify and remedy other people’s mess. Pointing out that they needed to clean came naturally. While I had so carefully scripted my own excuses, they obviously had no legitimate reason for hosting such filth.
As I’ve grown older, I realize that some things never change. Satan will always tempt us to focus on other people’s mess. He will always give us reasons to justify our own filth. We continue to seek punishment for our brother while desiring mercy and grace for ourselves.
In light of what I see taking place in the church and the increasing consistency in which Christians remain under the media’s fire, it reminds me of a certain group that came before Jesus. Only seeking “justice,” of course. Satan is a master at convincing us that we are really just wanting evil to be stopped.
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
When we are aware of someone’s sin, especially when it is in an area unlike our own, our condemnation is quick to follow. These teachers of the law publically humiliated this woman as they broadcasted her sin and continued to seek her death, all to test Jesus. In a competition of “who could be the most religious,” a person’s soul was being cast aside.
When challenged, the scribes and Pharisees left. They knew of their hidden sin. Their thick cloaks and tassels hid nothing before Jesus. Suddenly, it was a broken woman standing before Jesus. He still held every right to condemn. He was without sin. Even with the bar of perfection set impossibly high, Jesus was above.
As followers of Jesus, we can learn from what takes place next…
Holding all the excuses, rights, and genuine authority, Jesus forgives the woman. He holds back condemnation and extends her freedom. Freedom from her sin and freedom to walk in new life. When we are confronted with sin, we have no power to condemn what Jesus has chosen to forgive.
We choose to walk in truth and encourage resolution. We promote healing and freedom from the bondage that sin creates. We do not condemn. We do not bring up or bring forth what God has already washed clean. We do not delight in other people’s moments of sin. We do not rejoice with evil.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Broadcasting or making light of someone’s sin is from Satan. Bringing something up, that has been forgiven, is from Satan. If we are genuinely seeking repentance and resolution, it is very rarely a public affair. Sin is the same in God’s economy. Some sin has more earthly consequences, but as children of God, it is not our job to decide the greater evils. As our fallen world continues to become more sinful and filthy, Satan will continue to condemn in order to test Jesus. It’s a win-win, if he can discredit Jesus and take out His children. Even better if those children start taking out each other in the name of eliminating evil.
Our we aiding Satan’s work by reminding someone of confessed sin, in an effort of making our hidden sin feel less offensive?
In every situation, God’s ultimate goal, is forgiveness and resolution. Even at the cross, Jesus was forgiving until his very last breath. As he conquered death, He secured our ultimate forgiveness. His intention is life.
May our intention be life.