May 21, 2012
Not Left There!
When our car gets a flat tire, we pull out the spare so we can continue on our way. If we get stuck in the mud or in a ditch, we call a tow truck to pull us out. In such situations we don't just remain there, we seek and accept the help we need so we can get on to our destination. Should it not be the same in life? Life's pathway brings encounters with bumps and potholes and ruts that can halt or impede our spiritual progress. However, the encouragement is that we don't have to remain there.
In the eighth chapter of John, we read of an attempt by some to trap Jesus as they brought in a woman caught in the act of adultery. ( John 8:3-6) As we might picture the eyes of these accusers fixed on Jesus, we read . . .
"(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.'" ( John 8:7-11 ESV)
Those who had brought her in, one by one walked away and left her there. Jesus, however, did not. He ENCOURAGED HER FORWARD. He acknowledged sin for what it is and exhorted her to leave it behind so that she could MOVE FORWARD. Pointing out sin is not throwing stones. (Don't miss that!) The stones that would have been thrown would have killed her. Pointing out sin and directing from it is to graciously provide hope. She had been brought in facing death, but FOUND HOPE instead.
Many love the story of not condemning, but seem to ignore Jesus' final exhortation. Sin is still to be acknowledged as sin and to be turned away from. That is called repentance, not just saying we're sorry or asking for forgiveness.
So, how are we to respond? Are we ready to embrace and support when sin is acknowledged and repented of? What is our attitude? Those who brought the woman in (part of the community around her) each came face to face with their own sinfulness and seeing they were not in a position to cast the first stone left one by one. Besides the fact they were using this woman and her situation to trap Jesus, this also seems to reveal no real concern for her. Remaining humbly honest about our own sin should cause us to relate more mercifully to others as we try to ENCOURAGE THEM IN A RIGHT DIRECTION. When we are seen to be working on our own life, then others will be more receptive when we try to help them with their struggles (i.e. Matthew 7:3-5)
Later in this same chapter of John we read. . .
"(31) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you ABIDE IN MY WORD, you are TRULY MY DISCIPLES, (32) and you will KNOW THE TRUTH, and THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.'" ( John 8:31-32 ESV)
Do we want to be set free and help others to become free as well? Then the truth must be shared and upheld. None of us can change what we have done in the past, but we can MOVE FROM IT. Though the world often says, "You made your bed, now lay in it.", our Lord is the One who can say, "Take up your bed and walk." (i.e. Mark 2:9 ESV) May we keep MOVING FORWARD WITH THE LORD while encouraging others toward the same. Sharing our own vulnerability we can help provide a safe place for individuals to "take up their bed and walk." But, let's not unlovingly leave them there.
Have a great day GRACIOUSLY DIRECTING OTHERS IN GOD'S WAY!
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