Neither do I condemn you
July 16, 2020
Close relatives of my friend are Muslim background atheists. For years she has been trying to talk to them about Jesus but has been constantly rebuffed. Recently, personal tragedy along with unhealed pain has brought them together again. This time, they are welcoming her testimony and inviting meaningful conversation.
Some friends were rejoicing with her over this change of heart when she surprised us by saying, “They are open to me because I changed. I used to look down on them because they were drinking and living with men outside of marriage. They could sense I was judging them. The Lord convicted me, took off my ‘religious glasses’ and filled me with His love and compassion. Now I see them the way He does, and they are able to trust me.”
How often has my witness been compromised because people sense I am judging them?
Jesus clearly said the Father sent Him into the world not to condemn it but to save it through Him (Jn 3:17). Ultimately, He carried out His mission by giving His innocent life to cancel our sin; in the meantime, He gave us a preview of what this would look like when the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought to Him a woman accused of adultery (Jn 8:2-11). They wanted to force Him into either recommending mercy (thereby ignoring Mosaic law) or death (thereby upholding the law but denying mercy). He avoided their trap, showing mercy to her and to them: “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7).
As her accusers left one by one without condemning her, Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin” (v 11). Astounding! Everyone present knew she was guilty. I believe when Jesus wrote in the sand with His finger, He was reminding them of two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God for their instruction (Ex 24:12, 31:18). What was going on inside that woman’s heart? Did she realize the One who wrote the law and came to fulfill it had just set her free from its punishments for sin? He forgave her first, then told her to turn (repent) from sin. Do you think she did?
He wrote in the sand a second time. Perhaps He was also referencing a well-known verse: “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away from You will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water” (Jer 17:13). What was going on inside the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees? My friend allowed the Lord to remove her “religious glasses” and fill her with love and compassion, but these accusers did not allow Him to set them free from the curse of the law (Gal 3:10, 13). They left defeated but unrepentant.
Meditate on the following scriptures:
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic 6:8).
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (Ja 2:12-13).
Lord, forgive us for when our judgments have prevented people from seeing Jesus. Please remove our “religious glasses”. We choose to drop our stones and remove them from the Highway of Love (see Isa 62:10 and GHPL June 10) because they are obstacles. No more judging. No more throwing stones. We pray that Muslims, who’ve been battered by laws and rules, would see Jesus’ mercy in us and discover through us that His righteousness is the only remedy for their sin.