Judging Without Throwing Stones


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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”John 8:7 NKJV

The phrase Jesus used in John 8:7 has been widely taken out of context. Please keep a couple of things in mind. Jesus was talking to the very people who participated with the woman being judged. “These would-be guardians of justice had themselves led their victim into sin.” –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 460. By saying “He who is without sin” Jesus was being specific, meaning let a witness and not a participant throw the first stone. Jesus did not mean to give the idea that to obey the law of Moses one had to be perfect. They just had to be a witness and not a participant. The other thing to keep in mind is, Jesus was not talking symbolically. He was talking about literally throwing literal stones at her.

I want to make this clear, because I have sat in nominating committee meetings, where someone’s character was being discussed in relation to their fitness for a specific church office. As concerns about their character were voiced, someone came to their defense, with the cliche, “Let He who is without sin throw the first stone.” The cliche is totally out of place and context. We were discussing whether or not this person should have an office in the church, not whether they should be literally stoned to death! Please, in a church nominating committee there is a huge difference between denying someone an office and stoning them to death, as is the context in John 8. In a church business meeting there is a huge difference between church discipline and possibly removing their names from the books, and literally stoning them to death.

The Bible gives clear and definite counsel in Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6, among other places on how to discipline a wayward church member. Still some will deny those inspired passages, and say we should practice love instead of discipline. Yet love includes discipline! Jesus says,

I correct and discipline everyone I love. Revelation 3:19 NLT

Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness.Romans 11:22 NLT

Jesus has given counsel to His body, the church on how to rebuke and discipline in love, those who are wayward, some of which may actually include being denied a church office, or even having their names removed from the books, (hopefully to be added back again after repentance!) but none of which includes actually stoning people to death as was literally discussed in John 8. In Revelation 3:19 we see that discipline and love go together, and in Romans 11:22 we see God being severe while being kind in saving sinners from their sin.

Please understand, judging someone according to Bible counsel is not the same as throwing stones. Please understand when we truly love people, we will follow Bible counsel on dealing with their sin, which includes loving discipline. There is no genuine love without discipline, and there is not genuine discipline without love.

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