Bible Society of South Africa
Benescke Janse van Rensburg

New hope (Part 2) – Day 15

New hope … realising we received undeserved grace

Bible text(s)

Judging Others

1“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, 2for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. 3Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? 4How dare you say to your brother, ‘Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Matthew 7:1-5GNBOpen in Bible reader

At the height of it, several readers asked me what my opinion was regarding the Oscar Pistorius tragedy. My answer was as follows:

Come for a moment back in time with me. Where you are standing in the market square in Jerusalem, the sound of a rowdy crowd from the temple draws your attention. You walk closer and inside the temple, you push through the crowd to the front. You want to see what the fuss is all about. There on the floor, you see her. A beautiful, slender woman with dust marks on her elbows and knees. Defenceless. Broken. Marks of fresh tears apparent on her cheeks. The scribes and Pharisees had formed a circle around her. “I’m really sorry,” she whispers, as tears stream down her cheeks. “Keep quiet woman! You are guilty. You must die!” one of the scribes lashes out at her.

You suddenly realise what is going on. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought this woman, caught in adultery, to the temple where Jesus is busy teaching the crowd. They want his opinion; hoping he would say something they can use against him in the future. “Jesus,” one of the Pharisees starts, with a loud voice so the crowd can hear him, “this woman was caught in adultery. In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” Your heart beats fast. The Pharisee already has a stone in his hand – ready to execute this woman.

The atmosphere is tense as the crowd now quiets down. All eyes are on Jesus. What will he say about this matter? Instead of responding to the Pharisee, Jesus bends down and starts to write on the ground with his finger. This was clearly not the reaction that the Pharisees had hoped for. “Uh, Jesus,” the Pharisee continues, after clearing his throat, “did you hear what I asked?” To everyone’s surprise, Jesus straightened up and said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. Simple, powerful, to the point!

With an awkward shuffling, those who heard what Jesus had said began leaving, one at a time, until only Jesus was left with the woman. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Jesus asked her. She wiped away her tears before answering. “No one, Lord.” Then he continued: “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Read the above story again, but this time, put yourself in the centre of the circle. The Pharisees are standing around you, lashing out at you about one incident in your life that you regret with your whole being. Would you prefer their harsh accusations or the undeserved grace of Jesus Christ?

Now place Oscar Pistorius in the circle. That is where he currently stands, receiving the harsh accusations from the world. Are you joining in or do you show undeserved grace, knowing that only God can judge?

In Matthew 7:1-5 we read: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

My heart still goes out to both the Pistorius and Steenkamp families, and not for one moment do I want to undermine the seriousness of the matter. However, what I do want to emphasise is that when we repent of our evil deeds and turn away from it, God gives us second chances. He turned Saul, the murderer, into Paul the evangelist. Simon, who denied Jesus, into Peter, the rock on whom the church was built. He told the man on the cross next to him that they would be together in paradise and the woman who was almost stoned because of her adultery, later on became the first person to whom Jesus appeared after he rose from the dead. What will be your reaction to those around you regretting the past: harsh accusations or undeserved grace? God bless.

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