“Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her…’ But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’” John 8:2-8,10-11
The religious leaders fiercely wanted to get Jesus out of their way– His teachings made them chafe, His manner was unnerving, His followers were too zealous. They desperately wanted to trip Him into condemnation. So these self-righteous ‘superiors’ nit-picked at the audacity of an adulterer, and Jesus knew just how to disarm their nay-saying.
Jesus addressed both the leaders and the woman here, and I imagine both squirmed a bit before coming to a similar conclusion- silence when being honest about their own sin. Jesus had a way of penetrating the heart and allowing the conscience to have its way. His final word, both unspoken and audible, was, ‘Leave, go, be gone.’
When our control is threatened, we can fall to desperate attempts at lording it over others. And when it is stressed by rising pressure, our reactions can get ugly. Often we act out because we are afraid of what is happening, or uncomfortable with other-imposed restraint, and want to exert ourselves in the fray. But when we fail to surrender to God’s control and walk in His Spirit, we slip into destructive, discouraging, demeaning practices. (Galatians 5:16-25)
Where are we nit-picking at the foibles of those around us, and in doing so, claiming ourselves better, more enlightened, more ‘right’? Will we humble ourselves to acknowledge we are driven by fear of losing our control, of relinquishing our tidy living and self-made security? Do we recognize the hideous pride that instigates our nay-saying of others’ ‘folly,’ their decisions we do not like and opinions with which we disagree?
Leave your comparing, your chastising of others’ sin. Quit complaining, stop criticizing as foolish or wrong the earnest efforts of another. Be gone to be still, to pray for them and yourself, to seek godly wisdom and thinking, to repent. Leave the petty pebbles for God’s higher purposes of grace applied and extended, of cooperation and mutual support, of unconditional love and spiritual fruit.
Gracious God, have full sway over me. Obliterate any tendency to nit-pick and nay-say, and transform it to honest seeking of Your wisdom and glad living Your way.