Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
As a parent of two elementary schoolers, we have lots of rules in our house. Some of them are created in wild and chaotic moments of parenting, including gems like “If you find old bacon in the car, don’t eat it!” Others are established as part of the regular rhythms of our lives, including the standard, “When you get home from school, finish your homework first before you play.”
While it’s not always fun to establish rules—I’d love to play games all day and only eat cookies for breakfast too—they become vital when I think about the kind of people I am hoping my children will become. By establishing a rhythm of homework first, they are learning to show respect for their teachers, gain the education they deserve, practice discipline, and learn to appreciate their play. Leaving them to their own decisions might be fun in the short term, but ultimately it wouldn’t help shape them into the best versions of themselves.
When a woman was brought to Jesus after being caught in an adulterous relationship, he engages her with compassion. While being pressured to condemn her to death, he offers her a steady presence and contends with the hearts of her accusers. Ultimately, she is granted forgiveness and safety through the grace of Jesus’ presence, as he says, “Neither do I condemn you.”
Jesus meets her in her messiness, extends his grace, and offers her freedom from condemnation. Note, though, He meets her where she is, He doesn’t leave her where she is.
“Now go and leave your life of sin.”
Rather than let her return to her previous life, he offers her one of transformation. He names with honesty where she has been but rather than let her be, he invites her to more. To become the best version of herself, through the transformation that only comes from an encounter with Jesus himself.
This is the kindness of God.
Jesus doesn’t stand back and wait for us to earn his love, but he brings his presence to us in the here and now. Right where we are, as we are. But the kindness of God takes it a step further—Jesus loves us so much that he is unwilling to leave us as we are. Each encounter with the grace of God invites us to become the best version of ourselves: “Now go and leave your life of sin.”
Are there places in your life where you are experiencing a stronghold? When you think about surrendering it to God, do you think about condemnation, or kindness? Take a moment to reflect what it might look like to invite the kindness of God into the stronghold.