Log on to the Internet and you see it. Turn on the TV and you hear it. Hang around human beings and you can’t miss it. Sin. Every day we’re assaulted by tawdry images, vile behavior, and egotistical attitudes. People flaunt their sin without shame.
How should the Christian react?
Appalled, we often speak out, condemning the sin—and the sinner. You’ve seen this on the news shows, read it on Facebook, and heard it from your friends. Maybe from your own mouth.
In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus showed us a better approach—no condemnation, but no excuses.
Jesus response to the woman’s accusers is one of the Bible’s most quoted—and most misquoted—verses. “‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’” (John 8:7). These words sliced through the accusers’ self-righteousness and stopped them cold. We are all sinners. As recipients of God’s unwarranted compassion and forgiveness, we should offer compassion and forgiveness to our fellow sinners. Please note Jesus’ refusal to condemn came before His call to repentance. Likewise, our mercy must not hinge on the other person’s repentance.
This story is often used out of context to silence Christians from speaking out against sin. But Jesus did not excuse the woman’s adultery. He told her, “‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:11). If we are truly compassionate, we will show the way out of sin’s pain and point people to salvation and forgiveness in Christ.
Jesus, as always, calls us to imitate the fullness of His character—holiness and grace, boldness and mercy, speaking the truth in love.
Which side do you tend to flop on? Condemning sin or excusing it?