John 8:3, 4
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?
With sin comes consequences, but shouldn’t forgiveness be close behind? It’s easy to demand forgiveness when you are the one who has done the wrong. Nine times out of ten though, the problem isn’t when we have sinned, but when someone else has… leaving you or me as the party responsible for forgiving.
This isn’t always as easy as you would think it should be. There are several factors that usually play a key part in the process of forgiveness. For instance, how major was the wrong that was done against you? Did the guilty individual do it purposefully or was it an honest mistake? Is it the first time something like this has happened or has it become a repeated offence? Is the individual a close relative or friend, or a stranger on the street? All of these, and many more, are examples of variables that may affect the way you or I forgive someone. Is this the way it should be? Apparently not if you place any weight on the model of Christ.
The first passage of John chapter eight is an amazing contrast between the forgiving character of Christ and the hateful attitudes of the Pharisees. We witness as the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman who was caught in adultery to Jesus. They were bitter and uncompassionate towards her. To make matters worse, they were using her mistake as an opportunity to advance their own agendas. To the Pharisees, she was not a confused or ignorant woman in need of compassion, but merely and opportunity to entrap Jesus. Christ, on the other hand, accepted her with full knowledge of what she had done. He did not condone her actions, but lovingly protected her from her accusers. In verse eleven, Jesus forgives the woman for her sins and commands her to never do it again. This is the attitude I long to have towards anyone who sins against me.
How do you measure up against the Lord’s example of true forgiveness? When someone has sinned against God or yourself do you see it as an opportunity to make them feel guilty or to demonstrate the love of Christ? Do you judge them as if you are perfect or allow compassion to govern the moment? This attitude is not an easy one to retain. I have found that it cannot be a situational decision, but rather, a consistent lifestyle. To truly forgive like Christ we must be prepared to daily live like Him as well.
Where would any of us be without the forgiveness of Christ?
We too need to demonstrate His compassion to others.