‘Go. From now on sin no more.’ John 8:11 NASB
The Bible says: ‘The Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery…they said to [Jesus]…“in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.”’ Jesus replied: ‘“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”…When they heard it, they began to go out one by one…Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more”’ (vv. 3-11 NASB). Notice two things:
1) Those least qualified to condemn you, will. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. They made a practice of lifting themselves up by putting others down. Their aim that day was to trap Him by exposing her. Steer clear of modern-day Pharisees! Find your friends among those who’ve been redeemed by grace, and know how to extend it to others.
2) The One most qualified to condemn you, won’t. Stay close to Him. When you do, you’ll discover your scars aren’t permanent and you’ll recover much more quickly. Christ will meet you in your dark places and heal the wounds of your past because His grace is greater than your shame. Where sin abounds - His grace super-abounds! There’s no limit to the depth of shame He can see us through, because there’s no limit to the grace He can supply. Today, if you’re feeling the weight of your shameful past and sinful ways, come to Jesus. He’s ready to forgive you and set you free. But His invitation to freedom reads ‘R.S.V.P.’
‘[His] power…is at work within us…to [carry out His purpose].’ Ephesians 3:20 AMP Classic Edition
One author writes: ‘We manage time, waste time, spend time, and save time. We wish it would come…we wish it would pass…we see time fly…we feel it drag. We watch clocks and carry calendars…yet God controls time. He created time, and His creations are fenced by His time, directed and guided by His loving hand. We’re surprised by unexpected developments, but God is never surprised by even the most disastrous turn of events. And your outlook on life changes dramatically when you know that at this very moment God is working within you “to carry out His purpose”. Think about how you’d live if you were absolutely certain God was at the end of your deadline. That even if there were mere seconds left, you believed with certainty He was working through your circumstances. Believing God is there and about to provide is the essence of faith.
“Jesus…is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NLT). Time can’t diminish His love or His power to work within your life. He was there in the past; He’s present in the now, and He’ll be there in the future. The truth is, He has “all the time in the world…a thousand years or a day, it’s all the same to [Him]” (Psalm 90:4 MSG). And His ultimate goal is to bring you into eternity, not just get you through to the end of the week.’ Remind yourself that in every situation ‘[His] power…is at work within us…to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly…above all that we [dare] ask or think…[beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams].’
‘Happy is the man who finds wisdom.’ Proverbs 3:13 NKJV
Certain people can make us feel ‘less than’ when we’re in their company, but truly wise and mature people never try to do that. If you’ve had a bad experience with this, don’t allow it to drive you back in defeat. If you don’t stand near a ruler, you won’t be able to measure your growth or monitor how much you’ve developed. Whatever successful people know, they haven’t always known it - they had to learn and grow too. So don’t pretend you know what you don’t know. It’s best to speak genuinely and sincerely, asking questions when appropriate. Most successful people enjoy a chance to discuss and share what they know, so take advantage of this. Fear of rejection keeps us from going forward in life and in relationships.
You’d be surprised how many people limit themselves to socialising only with those who are comparable to them. They feel uncomfortable the moment they’re surrounded by people who are different from them. An important part of your development occurs when you decide to cross the tracks and relate to people who are ahead of you in some way. These relationships create a chance for you to grow. It’s not wrong to lack knowledge; it’s wrong to be unwilling to learn. Joshua learned the principles of good leadership from Moses. Ruth learned how to find the right relationship by listening to Naomi. Make this Scripture a guiding principle of your life: ‘Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.’
‘I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.’ Psalm 51:5 GWT
Whether your struggle is with alcohol, drugs, sex, anger, gossip, unforgiveness, stealing, lying, or gambling, one thing’s certain - we are all born with a propensity towards certain behaviours. So it’s not a genetics issue, it’s a spiritual issue. It’s not about science, it’s about sin. Any of us might find ourselves struggling with these issues - not because we inherited a gene for it, but because we inherited Adam’s fallen nature the day we were conceived. David said, ‘I was born guilty. I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.’ Solomon said there are no exceptions: ‘Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins’ (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT). So the answer is yes, we were all ‘born that way’.
The reason these behaviours come naturally to us is not because we ‘can’t help being the way we are’; it’s because our sin nature is stronger than our desire to please God. Even when we try, at times we lose the fight! Paul, the greatest of Christians, admitted to failing when he tried to do right. ‘I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out’ (Romans 7:18 NIV 2011 Edition). So if we are all born that way, what’s the good news? Paul gives it to us: ‘Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 7:24-25 NLT). When you were born you received Adam’s corrupt nature, but through the new birth you receive Christ’s sin-conquering, life-changing, righteous nature!
‘God has chosen.’ 1 Corinthians 1:27 NKJV
People are often drawn to us because of our difference, not our similarity. So don’t fail them by downplaying the things God has given you that qualify you to meet their needs. The disciples didn’t blend in, they stood out, and the world they lived in took note that ‘they had been with Jesus’ (Acts 4:13 KJV). They preached His message, used His methods, and demonstrated His miracles. At Antioch they were first called ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26). That’s because they talked and acted so much like Christ. What a compliment! What a calling! What a challenge! Because a cleaning lady told a Syrian general about her God, he was healed of leprosy (see 2 Kings 5). Because Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams when others couldn’t, he saved the world from famine (see Genesis 41).
Because a boy offered Jesus what he had - five loaves and two fish - a multitude of hungry people was miraculously fed (see Mark 6:34-44). When it comes to hiring, personality profiling is a useful tool for discovering someone's suitability for a job. But it’s different in God’s kingdom. When God calls you, He equips you. Do you think you’re not qualified? Who told you that? Not God! His Word says: ‘God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise…the weak things…to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things…which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence’ (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NKJV). So, the word for you today is - you’re qualified for the job!