I’ve been guilty before. Guilty as charged. And I wasn’t the type to deny it either. Yup, go ahead – call me bossy, crazy, manipulative, bitter, and angry. And I liked it, because it made me feel like I was in control of my life. By the time my vision was clear from the cloud of vengeance and I realized I had lost every bit of dignity I could possibly control, all that was left was endless guilt. Guilt over what I had said, done, thought…not done, not said, never soon enough, never enough. The list went on. That’s what guilt is there for though, right? We are given a conscience for a reason: an internal check system so when you step past the line of good reasoning, of good conscience, an alarm goes off. Even if you don’t hear it for a while. I didn’t hear mine for a bit, and after some self-analysis, I went into broken car alarm system – sporadic feelings of guilt that I would angrily shudder off. That soon morphed into full-fledged mental screeching of “Yo, about that? I was straight up WRONG!” Sigh.
I’m gonna digress for a second to relive a memory of such a hair-raising incident at my job. Everyone came to work that day with lots to do and in our early-morning-grind zeal, we barely listened to the entire announcement warning us of the alarm tests, only knowing that we should disregard them. Boy, did we wish we had listened. I was startled when it started but quickly recovered, assured that it would go away soon enough. When it didn’t end after 5 minutes, I grew exasperated. After 15 minutes, I stood up and looked around desperately like, “why is this life?!” and met other desperate blue, brown, hazel eyes. At 20 minutes, I literally felt like I was in a torture chamber and rendered myself helpless, unable to work till it stopped. Please, please alarm, I beg you, just stop. It’s funny now when I think about us perfectly professional people stuffing tissue in our earholes in an attempt to dull the noise. It eventually ended after a full hour – I wish I were making this up – and we workers, though tired and rattled, resumed with our day. The alarm didn’t save us, it merely shook us up. This is a story of what guilt looks like gone too far does.
Let’s take a look at John 8 verses 1 to 11. Jesus was teaching and some scribes and rulers (rudely) interrupted him bringing a woman they had just caught in the act of adultery. Yeah, caught. Can you imagine? She probably didn’t even have time to dress properly; these were men looking to shame her and trap Jesus into condemning her or disobeying the law. “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses says in the law that we are to kill such women by stoning. What do you say about it?” Well. What do YOU say about it? Isn’t she guilty? She was straight up sleeping with somebody man. If that were my man, I would’ve personally stoned her. Slashed her tires. Let’s go! There’s no denial here. She. is. wrong. Caught in the act. No excuses.
“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.”
Jesus was honestly the ULTIMATE OG while He was here. He ignored them by drawing in the sand when they first came to trap him and after much badgering, he said that and went back to his sand writing. Basically he’s saying, ‘You got it, she is wrong. So let’s make it even – if you’ve never been wrong, she’s all yours to tear down.’
What was Jesus doing her? Justifying her. He doesn’t condone her wrongdoing but He is literally saving her life. After all the men slowly drop their stones and walk away, they are left standing alone. Jesus then tells her “I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you.”
You see, Jesus was all about saving people, freeing them from shame, guilt, and ultimately, sin. Humans are often about condemning others, driving them to guilt, manipulating them to feel bad for how much they’ve wronged us (guilty as charged) but the message Jesus is giving us is one of life, a new life. This adulterating woman KNEW that she was wrong. When they dragged there in front of lots of people, she probably felt helpless, ashamed, now found out. But God didn’t send His son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction – John 3:17.
Like so many Christians today, I was walking around with condemnation and guilt of what I could have or should have done in various circumstances, bearing all the guilt on my own shoulders. It wasn’t till a sermon on this scripture by Bishop Dr. Jackie McCullough that something penetrated. I prayed: Lord, I want to walk fully in the healing you have freely given me. You see, this woman did nothing. She didn’t beg Jesus that He please save her. She was at the mercy of His mercy. Man, what great mercy to be under. I just want to encourage you as I have been. Go, and avoid the sins that plague you. Go, and sin no more. Just walk away. Freedom awaits you. Bishop McCullough said something powerful, “Justification is your right – don’t go to Him as a beggar, go to Him as His child.” He has promised to help us. Accept it.
Bottom line: Own who you are, and take your broken messed up self to the Only One who has the power to change you, and surrender to the change. You are a hot mess and will be till you die. It’s ok though. That’s why Jesus came, no? REFUSE to live in condemnation. Refuse to keep apologizing to the same people about past mistakes (because if you’re really sorry, you would have apologized at least once). I’m free! He promised! Approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). So who are you to judge? I want to encourage anyone that is truly repentant about their past but still hung up that God’s got it. And believe it or not – your mistakes have made you a better wo/man. Walk in confidence that God is doing a work in you. That freedom will then allow you to take bold risks, go on adventures, and ask God for big blessings. Because we know who we are in Him. Wow, what a revelation. THAT is true confidence.