Promoting Positive Changes
People often say "Jesus didn't condemn people, and neither should we". We don't sit in a position of judgment for sure, but let's tell the rest of the story too. Does Jesus want us to just ignore sin, or worse, encourage those caught up in it to remain there because we aren't judges? How did Jesus handle these situations?
None of us are free of sin, and none of us have a license to sin, and none of us have any special exemption from God when it comes to sin. This isn't a discussion about Christians needing to get rid of the beam in our own eyes before we address the spec in someone else's eyes. Let's see how Jesus addressed people who had a sin problem!
Christ, while here on earth, displayed wisdom far beyond the ability of any of us, as well as a love that we can't fully display either, but He wasn't soft on sin. He didn't verbally berate sinners, nor threaten them in a condemning manner, but He certainly didn't condone their sin either. Jesus warned them, and He didn't ignore condemnation, in fact, He spoke these words, "There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.? (John 12:48) We see Jesus use His influence and direct His efforts to change people's hearts, to avoid eventual condemnation.
The woman caught in adultery was a story that taught her accusers that they too had sin in their lives, something we must all recognize. As they left, one by one guilty of their own sin, Jesus finally looked up and asked, "where are your accusers"? There being none, Jesus said what? "Since they are all gone, they are sinners just like you are. Don't worry about it!"
Unfortunately, some in our world today read it that way. But Jesus said since her accusers were no longer there to condemn her (stone her to death, the penalty for her sin in that day) that He wouldn't either. BUT then he says what often gets left out of the conversation, "Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus required repentance and a change from her adulterous life to one where she left that sinful way. (John 8:11)
Christ in other scriptures does similar things, the story of Zacchaeus shows us a man who had a life-changing encounter with Christ (Luke 19:1-10), one that required repentance. Jesus could have had some harsh words for him, but Jesus didn't bash people over the head, rather He taught with love, just as He tells us to (Eph 4:15). We also see times when Jesus was more aggressive, like calling the Pharisees "hypocrites" and "whitewashed toombs". Even though He pointed out their sinful hypocrisy and misunderstanding of the Law, Jesus was trying to bring about a change.
If the words of Jesus in the Bible convict us or anybody else of sin, it is the message of God identifying that sin, not the messenger. If we are offended, perhaps it's a true sign that we ought to sit up and pay attention. The true question is 'where does God stand on the issue'?. Many in today's world want us to not confront sin at all, and try to abuse scripture to prove we are not supposed to.
Jesus didn't take that position though, He used His influence to bring about changes of heart. He quoted scripture to bring about repentance. He required change. He never offered these people the ability to remain in their sinful state but prompted them to turn away and change the way they were living while they had the opportunity.
Lord, help us to be more like Jesus when we try to help people confront the sin in their lives, and help us to never forget our own sinful position before you. Let us speak the truth in a loving way, and please bring about repentance to Your Own Glory!