“He said to her, ’Women, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’” John 8:10b-11
Father, forgive us for often partnering with the accuser. Forgive us as the church and body of Jesus Christ for aligning with the accuser instead of lifting our brothers and sisters up who have brought their sin into the light of your presence and confessed it. Far too often they are met with condemnation and judgement rather than grace and forgiveness. Lord, help us as the body of Christ to do better in embracing our sisters and brothers and helping to restore them to the full place of honor you intend for them to have as your son or daughter. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
As the Church and body of Christ too often we fumble in how to react when our fellow brothers or sisters in Christ come to us with their sin. We act shocked and often respond in condemning ways. We unintentionally cover our brothers and sisters with a blanket of shame instead of reassuring them of their covering in the blood of Jesus Christ. Shame attaches to identity, can lead to self-hatred, which can cause a downward spiral of devastation in a person’s soul.
When we shame others, we are aligning with “the accuser”—the enemy, who is all about shame. He is the one who accuses. And our self-righteous, self-hating flesh is all to eager to agree. When we do this, have we not eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thinking we have the right to judge, condemn and put sentence on those who have sinned?
Grace cannot grow in the hard ground beneath the shadow of that deadly tree.
And if the offense was against us personally it can be even more difficult to maneuver our way from accusation and seeking justice to the life-giving place of grace, mercy and forgiveness.
We live in a sin filled world full of fallen people. It is impossible to live on this earth without experiencing offense. When someone sins against us, it can cut to the core ripping our heart in two. Emotional pain can feel physical if the impact is severe enough. There have been times when I wanted those who hurt me to experience the same pain they caused and feel the weight of shame.
The offense may have been horrific and God saw it all and He is the great avenger of injustice. God understands the violation was great. He is not asking you to forgive someone who is innocent but someone who is guilty.
Even after I thought I have forgiven an offense, a part of me may still be tempted to cry out for justice and want recompense. Sometimes we need another round of forgiving, or possibly seventy times seven before it begins to work through our system to remove the toxic effects of unforgiveness. We may even need a booster shot later when our hearts are exposed again.
Words from the book The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson express the Lord’s desire for restoration to an even greater degree.
“Forgiveness restores the standard…Your forgiveness restored me back to the place of honor. Repentance means, ‘to be restored to the pinnacle, the high place.’”
Forgiveness and grace place us back in a position of honor even though it isn’t what we deserve. That is what grace does and that is what grace is. When we forgive another, it isn’t saying I forgive you but I still am going to treat you as I think you deserve to be treated. This may be the most difficult part of forgiveness—to give honor to those who we decided are undeserving of honor. God loves even the worst offenders. It is difficult for us as humans to completely grasp this kind of love, grace and forgiveness.
I pray we all can flourish in the fertile soil of grace under the Tree of Life, choosing grace over judgement and choosing honor over accusation. Let’s no longer align ourselves with the accuser but instead let us as the body of Christ be a life-giving place for our brothers and sisters to bring their sin into the healing grace of the light of Jesus Christ.