“And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47
It is so easy for me to judge based on outward appearances. We are all prone to judge according to what our ears hear and what our eyes see. However, much remains unknown to us in unseen realms and unspoken truths. I am uncomfortably aware of my rush to judgment and it is something I want the Lord to refine in me. My desire is to offer hope and grace rather than judgment.
Remember the account of the woman taken in adultery (John 8)? I recognized myself in the midst of those Pharisees. There was a big “gotcha” in their actions and words towards this woman. She was caught in “the very act.” She was wrong. They were right. Right?
But then I noted how Jesus responded to this very same woman. He took a moment before speaking. He saw the Pharisees and He saw the woman before Him. I wonder how different my response would be if I would just pause to consider, pause to pray, pause to look to Jesus for insight and wisdom?
And then He wrote on the ground. No one knows for certain what He wrote, but whatever it was, it convicted each man in that mob. One by one stones hit the pavement. One by one they stole away. That response spoke to me of my audacity to think of myself in any position to judge another. My failings abound and I need to drop my stone and retreat from my self-righteousness. There is but one righteous Judge—and it’s not me!
I love the line in Scripture that says, “And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:10). This is the sweet spot. Whatever the sin, whatever the fault, whatever the wound, this is where it belongs—between the heart of the sinner and the heart of Jesus. It’s not to be a public denunciation or a pretentious display. I want to distance myself from that pebble-packing crowd and instead be an agent of grace bringing them to Jesus.
And then at last He speaks to her and tells her that He does not condemn her. The One who has every right to condemn her, doesn’t. What has my condemnation of another ever accomplished? Absolutely nothing. It only makes things worse. It alienates me from the need, the hurt, the shame of the other. It closes the door and locks it tight. Any hope of relationship is ruined.
Yet Jesus upholds the Word of God. He speaks both grace and truth. He calls the behavior what it is: sin. He doesn’t apologize for it or water it down. Nonetheless, because He has accepted her as she is and has engaged her, He can now offer her an opportunity. He presents the prospect of something different than the degradation she now knows. He proposes something essential and holy and now possible through Him. He freely gives her choice.
She can go and stay stuck in shame—or she can go and sin no more. One who chooses Jesus over sin chooses change, chooses light, chooses life. “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“Father, I want to have the same mind Jesus had toward sinners. Judgment is altogether Yours. May I not hamper the work of Your Spirit in another, but rather trust that You are well able to reach them. Forgive me for my presumptions and critical responses. Change the heart in me. In Jesus’ name and for Your glory, Amen.”