Before you throw the first stone


A few weeks ago I started a class on the book of Proverbs. After a brief teaching on chapter 5 – the one about the promiscuous woman, I invited everyone to way in on the subject. Before long our conversation drifted toward Miley Cyrus. You already know the story, but I for one do not pay much attention to life in Hollywood or show business for that matter. Not because I don’t care about some of the creative and healthy stuff that do come out from time to time, but that I don’t necessarily expect anything wholesome to come out of that place.

As I listen to the discussion, it was clear that the participants in the class were all shocked and angry about Miley’s twerking and dirty dancing. Quite frankly, I wasn’t too surprised when I heard about it and saw it on the news, but it was still shocking to see the girl go that dirty. I think I was more outraged about Robin Thicke being a part of the thing. I still in some way have a righteous anger mixed with a deep and sorrowful compassion toward him.

For me he should had known better or shown a little common sense. I mean, think about it, she is twenty and he is as old as her dad. He’s married, she is not. Yet he stands there and allows the little girl who could be his child rub herself all over him in the most degrading and sexually provocative way. My anger burns toward the guy.

In any event, one should expect things like that to happen in show business. That’s why I don’t listen or watch them. I don’t expect them to bring anything good or wholesome. You cannot expect an unbeliever to behave in a godly fashion – they are not saved, and don’t have that kind of power.

I remember when I was a younger man without the saving knowledge of Christ. My mother would get on my case about doing the right thing. She would often force me to read the book of Proverbs. Even though I read some very great things in the book, I still didn’t have the power to live it out in my life. I didn’t know Jesus.

On the other hand, I expect believers to behave in a godly fashion and live out godly lifestyles – because they know Jesus and have that kind of power through the grace of God. Unfortunately, a lot of us still do stupid things from time to time. The church itself has had too many scandals of christian and clergy doing sinful things.

Having said that, too often when we see the sinfulness of others – those of the world or those of our christian brothers, we almost, automatically turn into a stone throwing mob ready for the kill. Our displeasure toward their sinfulness is quickly turned into this “holier than thou” attitude ready to tear people to shreds.  But just like Jesus drew a line in the sand many years ago between an angry mob and the woman caught in the very act, we must draw that same line today before we throw a stone at sinners – unbelieving sinners and believing sinners, no matter how outrageous their behavior is.

We should draw a line and ask ourselves the following questions before we throw the first stone:

  • I’m I acting out of sacrifice or out of mercy? Sacrifice is about holiness and justice – God’s just condemnation and punishment for sin. Sacrifice is about purity and the punishment of a lack there of. Mercy is the ability to look past one’s sin and allow space for love, grace and mercy. Jesus said, for it is mercy I want not sacrifice – go and learn what that means… Matthew 9:13
  • How much time have I spend weeping, praying over the sinner?
  • Do I have enough burden, am I willing to bear that burden?
  • When the Lord leads, am I willing to confront gently, sympathetically and respectfully? Galatians 6:1 says, brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
  • Am I sure that I know that I am not better than others?
  • How would Jesus want me to react to the sinfulness of the world?
  • Am I aware that I should never compare myself to others in a “holier than thou” way?
  • How aware am I about my weaknesses, frailties, sinfulness? In John 8:7, Jesus made the following statement: Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw the first stone. After he made that statement he bent down and began to write on the ground. But when he lifted up his head, the angry mob was gone. The point is this, every one of us struggle with sin. If we are honest enough to admit it, at least to ourselves, we will be a bit more gracious toward others.
  • Am I willing to avoid gossip, slander or evil speaking ?
  • Am I truly broken over the plight of the sinner?
  • Am I motivated by love?

We live in a sinful world, and we are told to be like little infants when it comes to sin, to avoid the very appearance of it. We are told to keep ourselves in the love of God waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. We are told to have mercy on sinners and those who doubt and save other by snatching them out of the fire. We are told to show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. When we see the sinfulness of others, let us think about these things first before we start throwing stones. This is the way the Lord would want for us to live and engage the culture around us – either in the world or in the church.

what other question do you think we should ask ourselves before we start throwing stones?

Related Post: I desire Mercy not Sacrifice

15 responses to “Before you throw the first stone

  1. (I’m still getting caught up on my reading, so this is a little late.) {sigh}

    Perspective is everything, I’m learning. For instance, I tend to use a bar graph when “charting” sin. Twerking (whatever that is…sounds like I don’t want to know!), would probably be toward the top of the graph, stealing somewhere in the middle; homosexuality would soar off the chart, while my “little white lies” and other “harmless” acts of disobedience would barely register at all.

    God, on the other hand, views the chart from above. All He sees are blots – “Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin, Sin.” He doesn’t rank them.

    When I hear Bible-believing Christians rant about homosexuality and how it is an abomination to God and those ensnared in this sin ought to go to hell, I have to wonder: Do they know that God also calls gossip an abomination?

    My heart breaks for the Mileys and the Beonces of the world. They are also created in the image of God. One has to wonder what happened to them to break that inbuilt shame mechanism so that they now behave so shamelessly? They are not enemies…they are POWs.

    Lord, give us compassion for the broken and damaged. Open our eyes to see the evil beings that have these people in their slimy grip, who whisper lies in their ears day and night. Oh God, set them free!

    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  2. sorry I missed this one… I appreciate your comment…
    Outrage begins to eat us alive when it is not channeled into creative love. It does not produce the righteousness we rightly seek (James 1:20).
    My point in the post is that – I too fall short when this “righteous indignation” is not lovingly channeled.
    Having said that, I would beg to differ, that feeling angry is not throwing the stone… anger can degenerate into stone throwing, but in and of itself – anger is not sin, nor is it throwing stones. The scripture says, in your anger – do not sin. So we can have some righteous indignation but we cannot allow it to become self righteous indignation.
    Stay blessed!

  3. Preach it sister… very powerful insights… you have added much value to this post by your comment. Thank you! The key I think is what you said, “If I honestly feel God leading me to address it, I make every attempt to be salt and light but gracious at the same time.” Stay blessed my sister hope the family is doing great!

  4. Well, welcome back! Thanks for sharing these kind words. And when you say, “That stone we sometimes cast as Believers is one we’ve been carrying around that someone cast upon us,” is so profoundly true. What a difference we could make if we don’t react to others through the lenses of our own hurt but through the lenses of God’s grace and love and deliverance. Sometimes we are just wounded soldiers in need of inner healing – cause only then can we deal with the sins of others/
    see you on your blog! Look forward to reading what the Lord has been putting in your heart/

  5. hey Patrick… sorry for the late reply. First thanks for the comment… My dad’s name was Patrick – a very great name by the way. My pastor say we are living sacrifices that keep jumping off the altar because we don’t want to die (sacrifice). But as you pointed out – we should always respond with much grace and love when people fail. That is exactly what Jesus would do.
    Stay blessed brother

  6. i don’t blame you… I’ve seen it before but did’t know it was called that… it sounds as nasty as it looks… Hope you are doing great! Thanks for the thumbs up!

  7. Good exhortations here. But even feeling the anger is throwing the stone, as the Sermon on the Mount says. We don’t actually have to say anything about someone else’s failure; formulating what we would say but for the grace of God gets us there. It is a deeper problem than controlling our tongue; it is the problem of controlling our heart. Be slow to anger, slow to speak, quick to listen. We all of us have a long way to go.

  8. Excellent, Walter! Like you, I saw that on the news. I feel so sorry for that confused young girl that thinks she has to be sexually provocative to be accepted. I also feel sorry for her parent’s, especially her dad (probably because I am the father of two twenty-something girls and I know how I’d feel). My wife and I had no idea what “twerking” was – I wish we had never learned:-)

  9. Walter,
    This is a very convicting post for any true believer in Jesus. We all fall short. No follower of the Christ has a right to throw the first stone. We should respond with grace and love. As my Pastor keeps teaching, we need to die to self.
    Patrick

  10. Hey there, friend! I’ve essentially been “off” my computer to move…. Praise to God!!
    I’m behind on writing and reading. Soooo glad I started with this post as I begin catching up! You are on target, I believe, with this. We should NOT expect unbelievers to act Godly – especially when we can’t even get it all right ourselves. And we can’t play the game of “you used to be good so you should stay good” or the game of “my children were watching and that was awful”. (Accountability,, parents!)
    But we can do as God calls us to do in love. I too have a deep burden to pray for those in the entertainment world. Specific people at specific times. I am an intercessory prayer, but also have a deep sorrow like you. My heart breaks because of their “wandering” lost state.

    That stone we sometimes cast as Believers is one we’ve been carrying around that someone cast upon us. That’s not good either.
    We’ve got to go to the Word of God for everything. Including the heart check.

    Glad to be back on here! Great, great observational post!!
    Heather

  11. I’m less of a stone thrower and more of a “shake the dust off my feet” kinda gal. Meaning, I do prayerfully consider whether it’s even my place to be the one to “restore someone gently” and if I’ve got the right spirit about how I confront sin, whether or not the plank’s out of my own eye, and what the relationship is between me and the person. If I honestly feel God leading me to address it, I make every attempt to be salt and light but gracious at the same time. If, however, that person is just unreceptive or even hostile, I let it go. I don’t pick up stones. I’ve said my piece, the rest is to God; time to shake off the dust and keep moving ahead. Like you I avoid watching that stuff because it only makes me angry. And I also get hot around the ears when people who call themselves believers promote sinful lifestyles with a “Jesus died for our sins so let’s sin it up” attitude. But when praying about it I’m always reminded of what I was before He saved me, of the spiritual battle going on around these people that they just don’t see and are falling casualty to, and about the wrath of God that no believer should wish on anyone, and that returns me to a spirit of mercy, love, and compassion to where I can pray for a person instead of about or against them. Great post!

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