When the scribes and Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Jesus and tried to test him about her punishment according to Jewish law, Jesus said: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
When they departed, the woman remained with Jesus. He asked her: “Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she replied. And Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on, do not sin again.”
From John 8:2-11
Contemplation Notes for Using this Devotional:
- This story from the Gospel Writer Called John helps us be more compassionate with ourselves and others as we find freedom from our mistakes.
- In the story, the scribes and Pharisees have a holier-than-thou attitude. They say that the woman committed adultery, but nothing in the story confirms that. Yet, they suggest that they’re following the letter of the law and want Jesus to follow it, too.
- Sin, from the Old English syn, related specifically to religious matters and often was defined as a transgression against God or God’s law. The Greek hamartia, which has been translated as sin, meant missing the mark or not hitting the target. So literally, if we “sin,” we’ve made a mistake and missed our aim at being our best self.
- Jesus knows that God is unconditionally loving and infinitely compassionate. Therefore, he knows that there’s no retribution in God and that God doesn’t smite, punish, or condemn us for our behavior. He doesn’t ask the woman whether she’s guilty as charged. He acknowledges her divinity and humanity without shaming nor condemning her, as the scribes and Pharisees tried to do. He offers her compassion and simply tells her not to behave the same way again.
- Demonstration is your evidence of how well your life works. You demonstrate your compassion for yourself—and by extension, for others—when you accept mistakes as a part of life and choose to learn from them. In fact, in certain business and athletic circles, studying mistakes is a way to gain wisdom and achieve success.
- As numerous mental health professionals recommend, you can overcome mistakes and gain wisdom from them by:
- Knowing not to repeat the mistake.
- Acknowledging where you took risks, whether healthy or unhealthy.
- Dismissing your inner critic.
- Avoiding comparisons with others.
- Recognizing a missed opportunity as a specific choice at a particular time.
- Forgiving yourself for what you didn’t know.
- Imagining the compassion you’d feel for your dearest love or BFF if they acted as you did.
- Making amends and remedying the situation however possible.
- Honoring your spiritual maturity and personal growth.
- Finding something humorous, if possible, about what occurred.
- Celebrating any success you’ve achieved because of what you learned.
As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:
- What is a past mistake I overcame?
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Then, list, word map, or illustrate the strength and skills that helped you overcome the mistake.
- What wisdom did I gain from that experience?
- List, word map, or illustrate all you learned.
- When I contemplate my wisdom, what are at least three (3) ways I can grow beyond any recent mistakes?
- List, word map, or illustrate as much as you can imagine.
Treat yourself with lovingkindness as you use this devotional. Remember: God doesn’t condemn you, so don’t condemn yourself. Honor yourself and your journey for who you once were and how much you’ve grown. Know that your mistakes don’t define you. So, let them be the springboard that helps you rebuild where possible and move forward with grace.
© 2023 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.
Photo by from Shutterstock by Simon Bratt.