There is an amazing story in John 8 of a woman caught in adultery….in the very act! The Jewish leaders bring her to Jesus with the intention of trapping him. The woman was just a pawn to them in their quest to destroy Jesus and his ministry. Her life, her situation and what had happened didn’t matter to them. She was caught in sin and now what would Jesus say about it? By the way…where was the man? Where was the man she was caught with? Both of them should have been brought to Jesus for condemnation, but they had only brought the woman. The whole situation looked very suspicious at best.
You can read the story yourself, but at the heart of it were Jesus words of grace to this woman caught in sin, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” He forgave her. He extended grace to a woman who needed it desperately. Did she know she was in the wrong? Of course! There was no solution for her unless someone forgave her. This is what Jesus did…he forgave her sin.
How do we treat the fallen ones in our midst? Are we like the Jews looking for a way to stone the wretched sinner or are we emulating Jesus and forgiving the sins of the one caught in sin? Forgiveness isn’t giving approval for the sin, forgiveness never validates sin, but it deals with it in the right way. Forgiveness demonstrates the love and nature of God in reaction to sin.
The right response to the fall of a pastor is not condemnation but forgiveness. Are we condoning the sin by forgiveness? Not at all! We acknowledge the sin and deal with it as Jesus did…..we forgive. Condemnation or forgiveness? The results will be completely different…one path a model of Christ-like love, the other a perfect model of self-righteous religion. Forgiveness heals, condemnation destroys. Forgiveness restores, condemnation alienates. The divide between the two couldn’t be more dramatic.
At all costs avoid condemnation!