We all can point to someone who has done something we would never consider doing. We all know others who live their lives in a manner vastly different from ours. It is so difficult for us to understand why they do this, especially when they are hurting themselves and others in the process. We know that we are not to judge, but sometimes it is just so hard not to. We shouldn’t gossip, but then again… Well, you know what I mean.
When we witness these situations, how quick we are to reach for the stones of condemnation. Be careful! When we look only to the acts others commit that we wouldn’t do, we are, in reality, dehumanizing them. We do it to others, and others do it to us.
Have you ever felt like you were just a cog in a wheel at your work place? Have you ever felt like your doctor merely sees you as a case number? These are subtle forms of dehumanization, and we don’t like when they happens to us. This is exactly how we make others feel when we look at them according to the acts that they commit and not as people.
When the religious leaders brought a woman who was caught in adultery before Jesus, it didn’t seem that they were too concerned with her as a person. (See John 7:53-8:11.) They only wanted to use her and the act that she committed as a means to trap Jesus. They didn’t care about her; they were ready to stone her to death just to make a point. They saw this woman as less than human. Never did they consider what would drive her to the point to take up with a man that was not her husband.
As they continued to question Jesus as to what to do with this woman, Jesus answered them. Now the law did say that a person who committed adultery should be put to death. Jesus didn’t ignore this. He acknowledged this fact, then qualified the one who was to carry out the sentence. He told the crowd that the one who was without sin was to throw the first stone.
One by one, they realized that none of them were qualified to throw a stone at her. As they all walked away, Jesus was the only one left standing there with her. He was the only one that truly was qualified to put her to death, as He was the only One without sin in His life. Even so, He was more interested in seeing her restored than seeing her condemned.
Jesus saw this woman as a person. He could see past her sin and see her restoration. You see, Jesus didn’t come to condemn, but to save. If He came to condemn, then none of us would be here. Jesus looks beyond all of our sin, all the acts that we commit that He Himself would never commit. He looks beyond all this and sees our transformation.
Jesus loves sinners. He loves us so much that He gave His life up for us. Accordingly, He calls us to share His love with each other and to see beyond each other’s sin. He demonstrated how we are to love our enemies, and how do good to those who mistreat us. He hung out with those everyone else shunned. He turned the hearts of those He encountered by loving them, not by condemning them. He commands us to do the same.
When we only look at each other’s actions and not each other’s hearts, we see them as as sub-human. Jesus wants us to recognize one another for who we are: people. None of us like to be looked down upon. It pains us when we are treated disrespectfully by those who judge us. We feel they wouldn’t do this if they would just take the time to get to know us.
So the next time you are ready to pass judgement and condemnation on someone, stop and ask yourself, “Do I really know this person well enough to condemn them?” Stop and realize that by condemning them, you are really perceiving them as less then human. Lastly, think of how you feel when it is done to you. Remember, Jesus call us to love those that we would just as soon condemn. Jesus charges us to love them and to know that He loves them too.