A Story of Judgement:
Naked, she was dragged by the Pharisees and scribes, and thrown in front Jesus, who was teaching outside the temple. I imagine she felt leering eyes scraping her flesh and tried covering herself in the dust. The angry mob snatched up rocks and aimed at the defenseless woman.
“Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” John 8:4b-5 (ESV)
Jesus knelt and wrote in the sand with His finger.
She was a pawn in a desperate attempt to trap Him into speaking against the law, and Jesus, reading their hearts, knew they were less concerned about her adultery than they were about His condemnation.
The accusers prodded Him for an answer.
He stood facing them.
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7b (ESV)
When He returned to scribbling in the dirt, one by one, the rocks gripped in angry fists slipped through their fingers, stirring the dust around them. The woman’s eyes looked up and pleaded with Jesus for mercy.
I imagine He stood and wrapped a cloak around her. “Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you?” John 8:10b (ESV)
“She said, ‘No one Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:11 (ESV)
Who is the Woman?
I often wonder what Jesus wrote in the sand. Did he write something the Father was whispering in His ear? I am the curious sort, but what’s clear Jesus diverted His eyes from the woman lying there ashamed over her sin and completely vulnerable.
Another exclusion from this story is her name. The omission of the adulterous woman’s name, works in our favor, for we can apply her to the women we drag into our own circle of scrutiny. She’s the one in skimpy cut offs with tons of makeup, trying to get attention…any kind of attention. She’s the working mother that the stay- at- home mom’s whisper about. She’s the unmarried girl with several children from different fathers. She is the mother in yoga pants and a sloppy sweatshirt, with enough baggage under her eyes for a trip to Europe. She is the middle-aged woman in the string bikini with orange skin. She’s the divorcee, the spinster, the one who drinks too much, the shopaholic, and that mother with the wild children. She’s the woman we all judge from time to time, without the consideration of her experiences, background, circumstances, or frailties.
“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” John 12:47 (ESV)
We Must Have Humility:
There was little condemnation in Jesus. I find it ironic… most of the time His judgement was applied to the ones doing the judging. His goal on earth was to teach, to heal, and most importantly, to save by taking on our sins at the cross.
Jesus clearly said that if we choose to exalt ourselves over someone else, we will be humbled. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather humble myself, than be humbled. Furthermore, self-exaltation is in complete opposition to making Jesus Lord of our lives. Placing ourselves as judge over someone, is taking the place reserved for God. When Jesus walked the earth, He lowered Himself by serving. He washed the filthy feet of His own disciples.
Sometimes in order to quit a behavior, we must uncover why it is there in the first place. There are multiple triggers for judging, including jealousy, fear, and insecurity, to name a few, but there is only one that Jesus chastised—self exaltation.
Solomon wrote, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) It takes a haughty spirit to judge someone, and a haughty spirit is something God hates. We as servants of Christ are to humbly commit to serving others. How can we serve others this way if we are putting ourselves above them?
“The greatest among you, shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12 (ESV)
Judging Is Not Loving:
Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I believe judging women has become one of the largest problems in a woman’s mission field. Where is your mission field? It’s wherever God has placed you, your neighborhood, your job, your child’s school, and your community. Think of all the women God has entrusted to your care in these areas. Judging others has an extinguishing effect on our ministry for the Lord. God commanded us to love one another as we love ourselves. Imagine a ministry of pouring love into women, no matter what they look like, act like, or feel like to us. As a result, how many women would peel their confidence from the earth and place it on the cross? How many women would come to know the Lord and His plans for their lives? How many would turn from a sin eating holes in their spirit and fill those gaps with redemption?
I challenge all of us, the next time we feel the human urge to judge, we place that woman in the dust at the feet of Jesus, and picture ourselves standing by, holding the rocks. Would we let them slip from our grip? Or would we throw?
Tammy Carter Adams is the founder of The Hallelujah House. She is a happily married, mother of four children ages 21 to 6. When she’s not writing, she loves to paint, and flee from Orlando, Florida to her farmhouse in the sticks of Georgia. You can read her entire bio above by clicking on the About Us tab.