I have a general rule I try to live by – I mean other than the Big 2 – but it kinda goes along with the Big 2. Maybe a subset of the Big 2. The rule is this: the only sin I talk about is my own.
It’s one of those things that occurred to me while I was on a detour from God. Well, *I* thought I was on a detour. (Little did she know…!) I found it painful to listen to all these holy rollers always talking about how other people sinned and how messed up the world was and how people were just ruining everything. All the crime, the teen pregnancies, the abortion clinics, the arabs, the mormons, the catholics (depending on what circle you run in), the gays, the gays ruining marriage, the gays taking over the world. And so on. And then you have the non-christian set pointing out all the wrongs within the church. The hypocrisy, the pastors caught embezzling, the priests abusing children, the church lady. Everyone is out there pointing their angry little finger at everyone else.
I’ve tried in the past to always take the opposite side of whatever the predominant side is at the moment. If I’m in a crowd who is overwhelmingly antagonistic to one side, I try to plead the other case. It’s in my nature – I don’t see it as just enjoying being the devil’s advocate, though there is certainly that tendency in me. But it goes deeper to the heart issue of being able to truly sympathize with others who are not at all like me and realizing that none of these social issues are ever that simple.
But as I’ve walked through life and, hopefully, grown a little wiser, I realized along the way that it’s too easy to get caught up in other peoples’ problems – or problems as we see them. It’s too easy to avoid a good hard look at my own life and to see the spots I run from.
I’m reminded of the passage in Romans “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Click here to read what I wrote about it in another post.) This sobering phrase goes through my head when a conversation heads down the Condemnation Trail, “God will repay each person according to what they have done.” And that you are “storing up wrath” for yourself in the end when you condemn another.
And I am also reminded of the woman who was caught in adultery, waiting for stones to fly. She was caught and she deserved, by the laws of the land, to be stoned to death. But Jesus in his mercy told the people this – whoever has no sin, go ahead and throw the stone. I always felt like he was saying, I dare you. Maybe that’s what he wrote in the sand – I double dog dare you. Because what he revealed to that crowd that day was the sinfulness in their own hearts, the issues they had to deal with. Enough of this pointing fingers and enough of this weeding out of “sinners” because there would truly be no one left.
I encourage you today to put down the stone in your hand. It’s like we walk around with stones, clutching them tightly, ready to launch at others for every grievance. I want to be the woman on the ground, saved only by grace and mercy, clinging only to the very words of my Savior, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” I’ve often wondered what that woman did then. I would like to think she was forever changed, thanking God for her life back, making very different choices this time around. I would think that she never looked at a pile of stones the same way again, that she walked away, not in disgrace, but in joy and a new sense of freedom like never before, that nothing could ever hurt her now. And I would like to think that a person who has been given such mercy, such a gift, could never pick up a stone.