“Let him who is without sin throw the first rock” (John 8:7).
Perhaps some of you have seen the 1967 comic phenomenon of Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner of the 1000 Year Old Man? This hilarious duo traded thoughts about how cave men greeted one another. They would pick up rocks and thrown them. Now they came to know that that hurts saying “Don’t throw that rock at me.” It was funny, but I guess you had to be there. However, today we still throw rocks at each other often. We exchange barbs and hide animosity or low thoughts about others.
Recently God has been working on me about dealing with difficult people. The challenges has been great and yet He is also giving me clear Scripture admonitions to help respond in a more Christian manner. Why not just Christian, because I do not always act like that, and you can find plenty of witnesses for that. Above is a verse from the parable of Jesus with the woman caught in sin in John 8. Now this was a trick of sorts by the Pharisees to see how Jesus would respond to the Law, which of course Jesus wrote.
Now I too know the Law of the Old and New Testaments. This story is not just about dealing with difficult people, but about the sin of our reactions. You see we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4, he goes into depth on attitudes of the mind. He speaks of our deceitful desires and sinful attitudes that are put off as we become new in Christ. Righteousness and holiness are given to us, as we become true Christians, trusting in Jesus and Savior and Lord. A key here is having Jesus as Lord, which means that we are imitators of Him. Not that we consider ourselves as equal, but just able to be more like Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:25-32).
Now this is hard teaching about forgiveness and attitudes of the heart. There is a real devil who wants us to live in darkness. But “God is light and in Him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). The Ephesians teaching goes on to say that “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible. For it is light that makes everything visible…make the most of every opportunity…be filled with the Holy Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:8-13, 16,18). I better pause with Scripture before we become overwhelmed with guilt or shame, for shame is from the devil, but truth and the light of life is from God.
Finding out what pleases God is not as hard as some think. It is all in the Bible, the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. Simply stated but impossible except through the Holy Spirit. Being obedient is hard. Keeping dark thoughts in “secret” is common but will be found out. Our thoughts are known to God before we speak or carry them out. So confess and ask God to change you and make you new. This still does not mean that being good to others is easy. Brotherly love is just about as easy as eating a carload of Philadelphia (City of brotherly love) Cream Cheese in love.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Readers will recognize this oft quoted verse. It is very hard, but so are some people. God is giving us not an out, but explanation on why we can’t be at peace with some until they rid themselves of darkness and find the light. That helps me drop the rock in my hand. Yes, I think sometimes I carry rocks, not literally, but having the same effect. No it’s not funny like the 1000 Year Old Man. We need humor to see our traits at times. We need humor to face them too. Deadly serious approaches only bring up our own desires, not the desires of God’s heart for us. We can’t change on our own, but only through His love and life in the light.