THROWING STONES

God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. [Psalm 103:8-10 (MSG)]

While we will not be perfect, we ask for your grace and understanding when we stumble. [Family Christian store]

coloradoThe adulterous woman was surrounded by an angry crowd and the words in Leviticus and Deuteronomy required that she be stoned. To trap Jesus, the Pharisees asked what should become of her. This was another no-win situation for Jesus. If he responded to let her go, He would violate Jewish law but, if He said to stone her, He would violate the Roman law that prohibited Jews from carrying out their executions. Instead, Jesus said that the first stone should be cast by someone who had never sinned. Sinners all, the crowd slunk away, leaving the woman with the only man who was sinless but wouldn’t cast a stone. What became of the stones that had been gathered by the crowd in anticipation of the execution? Did people drop them or did they put them in the pockets of their robes for another time when they could catch someone sinning?

My husband was at the post office when the woman in front of him dropped some papers. He stooped to pick them up and handed them back to her. After she departed, the man standing behind my husband asked, “Did she even thank you?” My husband really couldn’t say and hadn’t given it any thought. The other man harshly continued, “I don’t think she did and she should have. People just don’t say thank you anymore!” When my husband related this encounter, I thought it a perfect example of our pastor’s recent suggestion to lower the bar for others. If we don’t, we’ll just go through life picking up stones and looking for opportunities to throw them. Although it was just a pebble, the man behind my husband at the post office cast it at the woman. Perhaps, rather than casting that pebble, he could have tossed a daisy my husband’s way and simply complimented him for his little kindness.

It’s pollen season and my pockets are filled with tissues. Unfortunately, sometimes they have stones in them, as well. Regrettably, I’m more than willing to toss them on occasion and I’m not so sure that I didn’t just cast one at that man in the post office. While I’m quite willing to justify and excuse my failures, I’m nowhere near as inclined to excuse the failures of others. Along with God’s forgiveness, if we want His grace and understanding, we better offer those same things to others. “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins,” said the old proverb, and it’s wise advice. Contemplating the walk another person is taking leads to us empathy, understanding, and a lowering of the bar. Of course, we should also remember that old saying about people who live in glass houses not throwing stones—and all of us live in glass houses of some kind or another.

Heavenly Father, forgive us for our hypocrisy, for ignoring the failings in our lives and focusing instead on shortcomings in the lives of others. Teach us to have compassion and help us grow a thicker skin. Instead of stones, guide us so that our pockets are filled only with love, sympathy, kindheartedness and a few daisies.

Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart instead of a piece of our mind. [Anonymous bit of Internet wisdom]

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. [Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG)]

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