Presence Devotion #33
John 8: 1-11 (NIV)
but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
There is a palpable tension between grace and discipline. It is mentioned in many places in Scripture, that a father loves his children and therefore disciplines them, and that a wise man heeds this discipline. God, the ultimate Father must discipline us because of his loving nature. However, anyone with children can vouch for the fact that discipline is fraught with difficult emotions, and is at times an uneasy path to navigate. The Lord loves us, and wants us to turn from foolishness so we may walk in the benefits of wisdom and self-control. The trouble is that this can feel an awful lot like shame, and we can hide ourselves from God in this process, just like our ancestors Adam and Eve’s instinct was to hide from God once they truly saw themselves.
When John 8 plays out in my mind I can see myself on both sides of the picture; the accuser and the accused. I can get so upset with the World and all of its sin, calamities and ignorance that I fall into despair, and start fixating on all the ways it could be improved. To rail angrily against the stupidity of humanity is one of the more fruitless activities I’ve wasted my time and my heart on. We are simply not responsible for making people feel bad; and Jesus doesn’t wish this for us. We are first responsible for ourselves, and then are responsible for leading people to Jesus, trusting that he is capable of turning that person in the right direction.
When I take my sin to Jesus, this picture of the accused woman is also what I see. He stands there with no condemnation. He defends us from our accusers. He waits by our side. He does not deny that we have sinned, or that we deserve the punishment for our sins. Instead he waits for the quiet reflection when all the accusations have stopped. Then instead of saying ‘you have done wrong’ he says ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’. It really is true that when you get a word from God, it turns you in the right direction. He is always moving you forward. He is moving the accusers forward as well. It is not his desire for them to have hypocrisy, pride and conceit in their hearts… In one beautiful act of defiance against the upholders of the law he sets all on a better path.
If you have felt condemned by the word, by a devotional, by your church, or by other Christians it is not from God. When he disciplines you, it is never into a pit or prison but into a better way of living that ultimately sets you free and glorifies him. When you come back to his word often, you are more likely to remember that simple and profound truth.
Lord, I thank You for standing for me in the face of my accusers. Lord, I ask for forgiveness when I have accused others and myself. Thank You for your grace that sets me free and for Your discipline that brings fruit into my life. I am completely overwhelmed by Your love and devotion to me. May You give me fresh eyes to see Your truth and to live it out authentically.
Further Reading: Hebrews 12
- How has the way you were brought up tainted your view of discipline?
- What is God’s heart and purpose in discipline? How does it differ from the accusations of the devil?
- Are there any accusational attitudes that you need to repent of?