Before you Cast the first stone..

The problem with trying to cut people off because of their failures or shortcomings is that oftentimes we look at them from the perspective of their shortcomings, their sins and wrong doings. We find it difficult to erase from our minds, quantify or fathom the absurdity of their failings. More so when those people mean something to us, or occupy certain reputable status’ in the society.

It is okay to be disappointed by the misdeeds of people, it is okay to express your displeasure in their acts, it is okay to ask them to be accountable for their actions. BUT, all these must be done in a constructive manner.

The story of the prodigal son, the story of peter’s denial of Jesus, the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, always bring me close to tears. This is because I am a product of God’s grace and mercy too, because there is no one who is without a past or failings.

So it appalls me when i see believers who ask for another persons’s head because he or she has committed the ”unforgivable” sin in their own opinion.

Let us take a closer look at the story of the prodigal son; what could be worse than a child asking for his father’s death while the father is still alive, just to satisfy his inordinate youthful exuberance? Yet we see that the Father not only accommodated this stupid request, he also welcomed the son back home, to his loving and open arms, when he realized the folly his choice and actions.

You see, there are some things that some people have to learn the hard way. Like the psalmists says in Psalm 119:71 “t is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes”. Who can be more merciful like someone who himself had obtained great mercy? Who can minister to a drug addict more than someone who himself had being delivered from such chains? who can know love without being hurt? There are some things that require personal encounter to bring a radical change in people.

After apostle Peter denied Jesus Christ during Jesus’ trials, Peter was heart broken and distraught, he could not imagine he could fall so badly. Simon Peter the rock! Of all the apostles! No way. But thank God he did not condemn himself with guilt, which i feel is what some people expect from believers who fall. I think they expect the fallen soldier not to rise, but prefer him/her to be buried in the darkness of guilt where there is no peace, but everlasting torment and condemnation, like was the end of Judas.

Simon Peter, knew how much Jesus loved him, and he also loved Jesus. He had let down his savior, His best friend, the one who had brought meaning to his life! What could be worse? But on a flip side, he realized the love of Christ for him. He remembered how they had broken bread together, walked upon the sea, how Jesus had healed the sick and forgiven the condemned. He knew the love of Christ, and knew that his sin, though unimaginable, paled out in comparison with the love of Christ for him.

I can only imagine the feeling of the woman caught in the act of adultery when Jesus saved her from her accusers, and asked her to go and sin no more!

God hates sin, as believers we should also hate sin and run away from it. But in the event that someone, a brother or sister falls, should we allow them to remain in the fallen state? Or should we reach out to them, rebuke their shortcomings, and then restore them in the faith and in love?

I feel we have a duty to watch out for one another in the body of Christ, do not let the wounded soldier die. Some denominational sanctions are so harsh that it transcends the offenders. For example in some churches, if an intending couple is found to have conceived before their wedding, the couples will not only be disallowed from having their wedding in church, the child that is born from such a union is also disallowed from enjoying certain ”holy” privileges. Meanwhile, there are several couples that have committed similar sin-(fornication), just that they were never found out- because they prevented pregnancy. But that doesn’t mean they have not committed the sin.

It is therefore a matter of who is found out or who confesses their sins. Where as those who conceal their own sins walk free and are sometimes bold enough to join the accusation mob. I know disciplinary measures are put in place to serve as deterrents, but they should not be contrary to love. What is the essence of any punitive exercise if it does not reform?What is our gain if we let the wounded soldier die? But if we uphold him or her, rebuke the offense in love, and clean the wounds and bind the broken skins(metaphorically speaking), not only will we gain an extra hand to fight our common enemy, which is the devil. We will gain a veteran, who has been to the battlefield of sin, fallen but restored by grace and mercy. Someone who more than any other will never wish to fall again, someone who more than anyone can tell others of the trickery of sin, someone who will also will more show mercy and compassion to others

New Living Translation
Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.  . The soldiers I refer to here, are those Christians who love God with all their heart, those who will not deliberately go into sin. Those who have made some mistakes at some low moments in their lives. Not those who keep pushing the boundaries of grace, because of their uncontrolled desires and inordinate ambitions.

So before you cast the first stone, ask yourself “am I about to join the enemy in his official ministry of accusing the beloved”? Or do i stand with Jesus by encouraging forgiveness and righteous living?

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