Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.
Something to think about
Read the passage again and this time picture the scene in your head.
It is dawn. Jesus has gone to the temple and the people have gathered. There is a commotion as Scribes and Pharisees drag a woman through the crowd. She is not properly attired and she has no head covering. Her demeanor is one of shame. A ripple goes through the crowd. What is this all about? In a clear, sanctimonious tone one of the Pharisees declares:
'Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?'
The atmosphere changes. Tension arises. The crowd react differently. There are sneers and foul names, shock and disbelief. In the midst of the deafening noise, Jesus bends down and writes on the ground. Still they do not stop questioning him. As he straightens, a silence descends:
'Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.'
With those simple but profound words the Pharisees and Scribes walk away. No one will condemn her.
Who are you in this story?
- The woman wilfully disobeying the laws of God?
- The Scribes and Pharisees judging harshly and lacking compassion and forgiveness?
- The people in the crowd, bystanders to evil, staying silent and not standing up for justice?
In truth, we are all three. We give in to temptation and knowingly sin. We judge others when that role is for God alone. We stand by and do not demand justice when injustice is happening all around us.
Lent is a time to reflect on our walk with God. We need to ask God for forgiveness and the ability not to give in to temptation. To not judge others and the bravery to stand up for justice.
Something to do
Every now and then, we'd do well to take a hint from the handbook of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Succeeding steps of their Twelve Step recovery programme are as follows: "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
Activism in the cause of the Gospel, as exemplified by Christian Aid, is good; sometimes self-examination, repentance and renewal are necessary too.
It was for King David; it is for us. It can only bring joy into our lives and make our witness more effective. That's something to start on today and complete over the coming week.
Something to pray
I ask for your forgiveness for all of the times I have wilfully done my own thing even though I have known it was contrary to your will.
I ask that you will show me when I am judging people and help me to stop.
Please give me the bravery to stand up for justice so that I can act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you.
In Jesus name,