May 132012

*The following post was inspired by a sermon by Lisa Patriquin on John 8:1-11.  You can hear it here.

Condemn: (v) express complete disapproval of; sentence to punishment; denounce; doom; declare reprehensible, wrong or evil.

What an awful word.  Just reading those definitions, I feel my spirit shriveling.  

What a terrible feeling it is to be condemned.  If we’re honest, we’ve all deserved condemnation at one time or another: our actions, words, or thoughts were ‘reprehensible, wrong or evil.’  

Condemning fingerMany people’s concept of God includes a heavy dose of condemnation.  God is watching, waiting for them to screw up so he can zap them.  He is the great, cosmic judge who dooms people to hell.  

Where did this come from?   Somehow we twisted the message of “be holy because I (God) am holy” (Leviticus 11:44) into “be holy, or else”.  What was once an inspiration is now a threat.  

I see the same thing in parenting.  We’ve forgotten the power of leading by example and instead we threaten, yell, and berate.  

The concept of ‘sin nature’ has gotten tangled up in there somewhere as well. If all people are sinners, then we all need to be beaten into submission.  Wrong! This is where Jesus turned it all around for us.  

If all people are sinners, then we all need grace, forgiveness, and a savior who shows us a better way.  

How miserable we’d be if God was constantly reminding us that we could never measure up.  Instead Jesus says to us, just like he did to the woman charged with adultery in John 8, “Is there no one to condemn you?…Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”


But Jesus doesn’t leave us there.  He expresses faith in a better future: “Go and sin no more.”  He doesn’t deny what we’ve done, but challenges us not to repeat it. He doesn’t give us what we deserve because he loves us.

I have a lot to learn here.  How do I deal with people’s mistakes?  Do I condemn?  Do I declare them reprehensible, wrong or evil?  Or do I recognize the mistakes and offer hope?  Am I able to see past the current situation into a better future?  Do I express that?  

And better yet, how do I deal with my own mistakes?  Do I feel doomed or hopeful? Do I label myself as a ‘screw up’ or determine to do better next time?

Today, I am thankful for a mom who did not condemn me for the mistakes I made.  She helped me recognize them and inspired me to move on.  I’m even more thankful for a God who does the same.

 Posted by at 18:13