Sandy was a young lady who had given her life over to Christ and was living for Him in mighty ways. However, she often faced questions about her past from family members and individual acquaintances. Repeatedly, Sandy encountered people who mentioned issues from her yesterdays. Before long, Sandy was allowing the treatment from others to have an extreme impact on the way she was viewing the Lord’s forgiveness of her past.
One day, a woman named Norma took Sandy under her wing to mentor. As the Holy Spirit began to work in Sandy’s heart, a newfound freedom began to emerge. Sandy eventually came to the realization that even though others were choosing to live in her history, she no longer had to live there. Sandy experienced an even greater liberty from people’s judgement—not only of her past, but of what they deemed her future to be. The only opinion that mattered to Sandy was that of the Lord.
I knew my sin had caused both hurt and disappointment in people’s lives. I also knew that through God’s leading, I had a responsibility to make it right with the Lord first, and then with those whom my sin had affected. As God led me in this process, I experienced His presence and peace as well as the forgiveness of others.
Yet, one of the most profound life-changing lessons took place when God moved my spirit to respond to what He had to say about my life. No matter how others viewed me, God was calling my heart to comply with His opinion and His alone.
I remember sitting in the middle of my den in Birmingham, Alabama, reading a story that greatly impacted me. It was the account of a woman caught in the act of adultery. A group of men brought her to Jesus, prompting a dialogue that included the following: (a) They exposed her sin, (b) They offered advice of what should be done as related to her sin, and (c) They posed a question that would leave the matter completely up to Jesus. The question asked? “What then do You say?”
“But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?’” (John 8:1-5).
Jesus’ reply not only shocked the woman but caused the men to look at their own lives as well. He stated, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” At his response, the stone-throwers walked away one-by-one.
My heart became captivated by the moment in which Jesus was alone with the woman (John 8:9). I can just see her now, broken, ashamed, and afraid. Yet, she stayed with Jesus. I believe something inside of her knew the man staring at her was an individual who loved and cared for her soul and for her well-being, so instead of running, she remained.
As Jesus looked at the woman, he made it clear the Pharisees no longer condemned her, nor did He condemn her. He then instructed her to go and sin no more.
Out of many, I would like to bring out two things from this story that apply to anyone who has a past. Number one, some people in your life may desire to expose your sin in front of others for their own personal gain. If this happens, we must let God avenge His own. Do not allow yourself to get entangled with individuals trying to cause hurt. God will take care of you.
“‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).
Number two, some people along the way may continue to talk about your mistakes, refusing to believe you have changed. If this happens, I want to encourage you to refrain from making it your mission to defend yourself. Your living for Christ will be your defense. You never have to say a word.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands” (Psalm 138:7-8).
Today, we are surrounded by Pharisees who are always focusing on other people’s faults instead of on their own. If we do not guard our hearts, we can start believing what the Pharisees of our lives think of us and lean toward imagining that God reflects the same thoughts. Our hearts can become ensnared when we start trusting in man’s opinion over that of God’s.When people come against you or doubt God’s desire to use your life, you too can pose the question, “What then do You say, Lord?” God’s answer is what matters the most!