Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others. 1 Corinthians 13:5, MSG
My husband and I have had to do some crawling back. Crawling back to the beginning of what we had at year one of a 15 year marriage. In doing so we read, and we began reading a devotion weekly that tackled some difficult junk.
Let’s jump back for a second. Read the header of this blog post. “Straight Up Messy Truth.” Does that give you a clue that I will not shy away from the mess? And folks, marriage? It is messy. This may not be what you thought you would hear today, but hang on-if your marriage is not messy, and you do not fight. You do not have a struggle, or have not had hardship-hold on…it is coming. Or, you are hiding something. Because straight up-we are human. We are messy. And every single one of our relationships will be, too. Even those we vow to remain in “til death do us part.”
Now, back to that devotional…and another mess. In the beginning of this particular exercise the authors of the book Closer, Jim and Cathy Burns recall the story of the woman caught in adultery: “The woman was first brought to Jesus in shame. Jewish law was clear she could be stoned to death. (We still don’t know why the man involved in the sin was missing).”
I had never thought of that before. When I read it…wow, I became angry. Bitter. How dare she be dragged into the streets to be stoned, and he…he was just able to walk away. She had to stand before all these people, shamed for her sin. And where, where was he?
This was my husband’s response: “Probably holding a stone in the crowd.”
Possibly. And for a couple weeks I held onto that image. The woman. Dragged into the square. Everyone talking. Her shame and sin for all to see. The man hiding in the shadows, ready to throw the first stone.
Until I read the passage again, a month or so later. Read the conversation she had with Jesus as she knelt on the ground, and saw this as I had so many times before:
“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11
He may have spoken it to that woman, but it applied to everyone in that crowd. Even the man. If we confess of our sins, we are then told to “go and sin no more.” We are given the opportunity to live a new life without shame. No one can cast a single stone because we no longer walk in that way. We no longer do those things. We no longer make those same choices. We hand him our sin. He forgives us, and we don’t do that thing ever again.
Woman. And man.
We all are given this opportuntiy because we could have stones cast at us. We could all look out at the crowd in guilt and shame. There may have been a woman kneeling there, but it could have easily been that man.
And Jesus would have offered him the same thing. Forgiveness. The opportunity to go and sin no more.
What’s that got to do with keeping records of wrongs? Well, think about it. Those people in the crowd couldn’t wait to stone that woman. And do we do this at times? Hold stones of judgment? Stones of all the things done against us, so we can throw them out at just the right time? Come on…admit it-we all throw stones like ammunition when we argue.
But Jesus doesn’t. He didn’t. He wanted to make sure no wrong could be held against the woman.
That she could leave that square without sin. Without shame.
When we throw stones, we shame all over again. And Jesus doesn’t do that. He doesn’t throw stones.
He offers us grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. A new way of life where sin lives “no more.”
To the woman. And yes…to the man.