“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11
After a long and difficult week, I sit in the silence of the early morning with rain drizzling outside as I wait for the first signs of day break. It is a peaceful moment I’m cherishing before my kids wake up. A moment I relish more than sleep.
This week has been a pondering kind of week. I’m not measuring “what-ifs” but weighing the value of life as I’ve wrestled with God on his plan and what exactly that means. This week my family has prayed for healing of family members and for friends as we’ve helped carry and submit heart felt burdens too difficult for anyone to bare alone.
The rain is soothing as I listen from inside, but my husband is about to leave into it as he continues to work on his training for a 50k run (that will hopefully raise funds for two charities we support.) Life is like his training. Despite the rain, we have to keep running. Sometimes feelings bog us down as if extra weights are added to our legs. Sometimes these weights are from worry, but other times they are brought on by fear and anger.
After the attacks in Paris last week, I’ve heard a lot of people say angry things. And while just after a horrific tragedy, I think that is normal reaction, I’ve realized just how easy it is to stay trapped in the thickness of mad. An emotion that leads to poor judgments and irrational behavior.
This week I’ve been studying John 8:3-11. Here is what it says from the King James Version:
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Before when reading this piece of scripture, I’ve always concentrated on Jesus’ actions with the woman caught in adultery. How she was used, first of all by the man she had sex with (who doesn’t seem to even be in attendance, but should’ve been in order for the Pharisee’s to bring accusations against her) and then used by the Pharisees to try to trap Christ.
I’ve always seen the Pharisees as wretched creatures in this scripture, trying to use someone else’s struggles to make their pious point. A point they didn’t really even care about. It was a means to an end. An opportunity to bring down Jesus. The woman was the stone they threw because they didn’t believe Jesus was who he said he was. It is easy to not like the Pharisees because of their actions.
Yet for the first time this week, something hit me while I was studying this scripture. Jesus didn’t appear to treat the Pharisees with hatred or even dislike. With his finger he drew on the ground.
I have no idea what Christ was drawing in the dirt. Some previous Bible teachers have suggested the Ten Commandments, the names of people in the crowd, the sins of the Pharisees or simple pictures in order to stall time so that these self-seeking accusers would come to their senses.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what was drawn by the finger point of Jesus. However, I think it is in the actions not taken that I learned the most from this week. Jesus didn’t stand and yell, calling the Pharisees hateful names; plus, he didn’t even really defend the woman by saying the accusations were false. Jesus didn’t run around spreading rumors about the injustice that had taken place or make plans to get even. He simple, quietly crouched down writing in the sand offering forgiveness and redemption.
When I’m angry, I want to “fix” the problem or at least set a plan into action. Christ responded quite differently. He responded in love.
I realized this week it wasn’t just the woman Jesus loved though. He also loved the Pharisees. Proverbs 13:24 (ESV) states, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Jesus gave the Pharisees an opportunity to learn from their mistake. A second chance to see their own sins and walk away from judgement. A shot at redemption. There was discipline in the silence. A discipline that led to self-examination. Self-examination that changed harsh actions into the first steps of repentance by turning away from the sin in progress. There was love in the discipline. Love for even the Pharisees.
Suddenly, I realize that more times than not, I am the Pharisee. I am the one throwing someone under the bus to make my point or get my way. I am the one judging people in my path instead of helping. I am the one more interested in making a statement than saving a soul. I am the Pharisee.
This scripture turns to one of grace not only for the woman but also for the Pharisees. I am very grateful that Christ wasn’t just interested in the woman in this passage. He was interested in all the people in the passage. Including me.
As I weigh in on the fear and anger I’m processing, I’m hoping this scripture helps me give grace to those who cross my path. Whether I’m accused or tempted to accuse, God’s fingertip illustrates a love strong enough for forgiveness, and gracious enough for redemption.