Neither do I condemn you. (John 8:11)
I read these words this morning in my time with Jesus and they almost leapt off the page; or my heart almost leapt out of my chest, I'm not exactly sure which. Either way, they brought me to life inside. You see throughout the last week I have been having condemnation issues; not so much on the giving end as on the receiving end. And I'm not sure I would've called them that until I saw this word. And as soon as I saw it my heart and soul quickly said, "That's it! That's what I have been experiencing all week." And it wasn't all at once, but in tiny pieces that were all adding up to a very large whole (or hole, pun intended). An unfavorable comparison, a criticism received, an insecurity struck, and the next thing you know I am at the bottom of the pit. You know, that pit of despair and depression that these things send me right to the bottom of.
The word condemn means to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; to indicate strong disapproval; to pronounce guilty. The Greek word katakrino means to give judgment against. It is a positional word, a word that is intended to lessen the condemned and heighten the condemner. A word that creates a dichotomy between the judger and the judged. That definitely comes to life in John 8. The scribes and Pharisees bring the adulteress woman before Jesus, rocks firmly in hand, fully intending to stone her to death. They the high and holy, and she the sinful and lowly. But, as he always seems to do, Jesus beautifully turns the tables. He levels the playing field. "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her," he says. And one by one, oldest first, they all leave...with the harsh realization that we are no better than her. We are not above her.
So there Jesus is, alone with the woman in the middle of what used to be a crowded street. He stands up from writing on the ground, looks tenderly into her eyes and says, "Where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No. No one , Lord," is her reply, eyes downcast, wondering what the next words from his lips might be. Would they be words of rebuke? Judgment? Condemnation?
But to her surprise, and delight, the words he gives her are words of life, not death. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more. Neither do I condemn you. I'll bet those words were music to he soul. I know they are to mine. Since I do not condemn you, do not allow others (including yourself) that power either. When you do that, you give people and things and events and circumstances a power over you that they neither have, nor deserve. Do not do that. Do not allow the voices within (or without) to convince you that you are any less than the Beloved of the Father. Do not allow comparison, or criticism, or insecurity to drag you down into the pit of condemnation. But instead, live your life out of the joy and gratitude and freedom of being loved. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17) Or, as The Message puts it: God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
Thanks be to God!