“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” John 8:7b
There are two verses that are thrown around often by people who attempt to justify their actions. One, I quoted above. It is usually coupled with, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1). I’d like to take a closer look at these verses and see what they are really teaching. Do they give us a license to do whatever we want?
The conversation usually begins by someone saying that something is a sin. Someone is living with his girlfriend without being married and engaged in sexual behavior. Or, a person is acting on their sexual desires with those of the same sex. Perhaps even someone saying that marijuana is good because it’s natural and doesn’t cause that much of a health risk. Then the other person says, “Judge not lest ye be judged…” Ever notice that they always quote the King Jimmy? Anyway, it is almost a get out of hell free card. So, how is a Christian to answer this?
What about the person who says, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”? Then the Christian usually falls back and has nothing to answer. Why? Because a lot of Christians judge, and a lot of those who are judging are in sin. What can a Christian answer a person who pulls the “first stone” card?
Let’s just put it this way, Christians are nothing more than saved sinners. All of our works are like filthy rags. All we, like sheep, had gone astray. We were lost and alone and afraid. Jesus found us in our helpless state and loved us. When we felt that love, for some of us for the first time in our lives, we understood how amazing his death on the cross was for us. We decided to love him back and with that love came trust. We knew that if God could love us enough to die on a cross for us, he would always have our best interest in mind. Therefore, we decided that his ways were greater than our selfish desires and we followed him. The problem is, the Christian and those seeking to justify themselves forget to read, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.” Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.” Therein lies the difference. The one who desires to be forgiven, should also be the one who desires to leave behind their sin. We as believers must learn to be what God is, he told us, “Be holy, for I am holy.” That is important because it shows that we have truly been forgiven. It is true that none of us have the right to throw stones, it is also true that none of us have the right to continue in sin.
That brings us to the second scripture. Jesus is the judge. He is the only one who could’ve thrown a stone, but he didn’t. Why? Because He always desires mercy first. His heart is to offer grace and peace. But there will come a time when that will go away. There will be a time when Jesus will judge all those who have rejected his offer of love and forgiveness. We need to read the rest of the verses in Matthew 7 as well. Here is Jesus, in his own words:
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
We have already established that we can not throw stones and we can not judge. Jesus could, but he deflected in love and mercy. So what is it that we are supposed to do? We are to have compassion on others. Jesus tells us to first remove the plank… That means we have to deal with our own sin first. Then we’ll see clearly to remove the speck. Did you notice that the speck and the plank are both made out of wood? It is amazing how large our own sin looks on others. That’s why Christians go after “sinners” so aggressively. Jesus calls us, those of us who judge but practice similar things, hypocrites. That means actors. We are playing the part of a Christian, but we’re not actually a believer. Our actions show it.
THE CORRECT RESPONSE
The correct response should be that we go to Jesus and ask forgiveness for our sin. Once we experience the love and grace of God in an authentic way, then we can’t help noticing that there are others out there who were in our sinful situation. Now, we can see clearly, our sin removed, and we, with love and compassion are able to point the other person into the loving arms of Jesus. That is seeing clearly.
So who deserves this kind of love and forgiveness? Everyone. Even you. We as Christians are not trying to throw stones at you or attempting to judge. It is quite the opposite. When we point out the sin, we are loving you enough to show you the errors of your way. Because we are so holy? Well, technically, yes, but not in that context. We have experienced the love and grace of Jesus and his forgiveness. We want you to experience that as well. So, are you ready to go and sin no more? Jesus didn’t cast the stone, what’s your move?