She had an affair and she got caught.
There’s no doubt about it, she was wrong. But in her day an affair was more than humiliating, it was a death sentence. The law stated that anyone caught in adultery would be stoned to death.
You know the story. You’ve heard it countless times in church. The religious leaders were shouting at her. They called her names and picked up stones. They mocked her and accused her. They condemned her and shamed her.
But what would I do in their place?
I’m nothing like them, I tell myself. I would never throw stones at someone for making a mistake. How could they be so cruel?
The more they mocked her, the angrier I got. The meaner they were, the more my heart and mind raced to her defense. The more stones they picked up, the more justified my rage became on her behalf.
As my thoughts swirled, I realized I felt something heavy in my hand. I looked down to find a large round stone aimed at the accusers. Then I realized: I was one of them.
Sure, it was a different stone aimed at a different person for a different sin—but my raised arm was proof. I was a stone thrower. I was, in fact, just like them.
I have grace to give, but if I’m being honest, it’s selective. I can have grace and mercy for those hurting, fallen and broken. But I draw the line at the haters, the mean-spirited and the bullies.
I can’t seem to find grace for a person berating another person online through comments and tweets. I have no mercy for the man who kicks someone while he’s down. And I can find no forgiveness for the hateful jerks that tear others apart with their words.
But in the end, these reasons don’t matter. God’s command is the exact same for all of us: “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.”
My pastor, Pete Wilson, was targeted by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church not long ago. They are known for picketing funerals of soldiers, among other terrible things. If ever there was a group to be justifiably mad at, it’s them.
But Pete’s response to this news was summarized in one brilliant line: “We must have grace for the grace-killers, or we become one of them.”
We must have grace for those that are mean and hateful. We must have grace for the finger-pointers and blame-placers. We must have grace for the ones pointing out flaws and tearing people down. We must have grace for them as well.
We must. Because if we don’t, we become one of them.