by Angie Thomas
Exposed. I came home after Bible study and started crying as I shared with my husband how broken I was over my sin. During the week, the light of the Word had shone brightly on several areas of remaining darkness in my heart and I felt a bit like the adulterous women brought before Jesus in John 8…overwhelmed, terrified, embarrassed. I was forced to come to grips yet again with the reality that I am not exactly the girl I think I am in my mind. I want to believe that because I can check off a list of boxes that measure my external “Christian” performance, this is somehow an accurate reflection of my heart. But Jesus has been lovingly showing me areas of pride, jealousy, and a critical spirit that continue to frequently dominate my thoughts.
Have you struggled with any similar feelings or thoughts? Jesus’ commands in the Sermon on the Mount often address our “heart” sins, those not readily seen by others: lust, anger, selfishness, hatred.
We want to believe that if we aren’t outwardly or overtly acting on these thoughts that these “heart” sins are not as harmful, so we tolerate them or justify them as things all Christian’s do. But Jesus is not calling us to live like other Christians, He is calling us to live like He did while He walked on this earth. He clearly said in Matthew 5:38, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I think my tendency in the past was to write off this command from Jesus as an unattainable ideal and give myself permission to keep on sinning. This is simply evidence of immature faith. We can actually be greatly comforted by this command. The growth toward perfection in Christ will take a lifetime, so as the Lord lovingly continues to reveal areas of our lives where we are stilling following our flesh and not the Spirit, we should rejoice! As the Lord reveals an area of weakness and as we remain near to Him so that He can heal the wound, our weak knees are being strengthened and we are being equipped to live a more effective and powerful life for the Kingdom.
So, as the Lord continues to reveal areas where our hearts our not lining up with Christ’s and we are turned “inside out” or our flesh is exposed, I challenge you to actually model the courage and faith of the adulterous woman I mentioned from John 8. She is dragged before Jesus after being caught in the act of adultery. There is no denying her sin. However, instead of condemning her, Jesus challenges the pious and arrogant religious leaders who were ready to stone her, revealing their hypocrisy and they are forced to drop their rocks as they realize they are not worthy to cast a stone. The saddest part…NOT A SINGLE ONE of them turn to Jesus to confess their sin or seek to be reconciled to Him. Instead they walk away in shame, still incredibly lost. Their pride has been wounded but their hearts remain hard and unchanged.
But the woman, SHE stays and waits to hear what Jesus will speak to her. He says, “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10b-11). Do you catch the power of His words? No condemnation…go and sin no more. And He still speaks the same message to us, “Stay near to me, don’t run and hide, there is no condemnation, stop sinning and living like your old girl, trust me to change your heart and continue to change you from the inside out!” May He give us much grace to remain near and be forever changed.