How can we show non-believers the real Jesus, the Jesus that forgives us our sins and offers us a new life? The first step is to allow Jesus to be the judge, and not us. We can be a living, modern example of Jesus’ response to sinful behavior among unbelievers, as exemplified in the story of the woman caught in adultery.
Jesus and a Sinful Woman
Jesus is the only one who has the right to judge sinners and yet, he offers forgiveness first. He offers grace first.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him 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.” John 8:6b-11
Three Truths About Jesus and Judging Others
- Jesus is the only one who can rightly judge us. He is the only one who has never sinned.
- There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:12 NIV
- You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things. Romans 2:1 NIV
- Jesus offers us forgiveness instead of judgement.
- For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17 NIV
- I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24 NIV
- If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9 NIV
- When we accept his free gift of forgiveness, he asks us to leave our lifestyle of sin.
- If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Hebrews 10:26 NIV
- What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:1-4 NIV
Meeting Jesus’ Ambassadors
How can we overcome our natural tendency toward judgement and self-righteousness? Here are some ideas:
- Identify needs. When we interact with people, we can ask ourselves, “What is this person’s need?” People desperately try to fill their need through sinful behavior. Their real need is love. We know that only Jesus can fill that need, but they don’t know that. If they don’t think you care about them personally, you may never get the chance to tell them.
- Remember your own need. Sometimes we are quick to judge because we forget our own deep need for Jesus. We forget where we were. We need to remind ourselves daily of the pit that Christ saved us from.
Do you have some other ideas? Please comment below.