Set Down Our Stones

“Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – (John 8:7b, NIV)

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” – (John 8:7b, CEB)

“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” – (John 8:7b, VOICE)

 

This particular story recorded in the book of John, is one of the amazing goodness and grace of Jesus. A woman who was caught in sin was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, as they hoped to trap Jesus and condemn the woman. When Jesus spoke these words to those who accused her, one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away. Each one knew that they too had sinned and did not qualify as sinless to hurl stones. I imagine we all have certain offenses against us that make our blood boil, however, when we slow down, breathe and reflect, we have to recognize that we are also offenders of others, even if it is without intent to harm. Sometimes it is the words that escape our mouths, other times it is our actions, or often even worse, our inactions, that are among our own sins. It is critical that we deal with our own sin, rather than try to manage that of another. Granted, there are roles that we are called to fill where it is our job to help others navigate a life of obedience, but even then, it is not by throwing stones that we correct, but rather through conversation, consequence and redirection. May we look to the example of Jesus when the offenses of others are brought before us, for not one of us is free from sin.

 

The stones in our hands, Set Down Our Stones

We must choose set down;

As we all have sinned,

We’ve made our own mound.

A mountain of rocks,

Where our own sins lie;

Each one forgiven,

Love never denied.

Let us do likewise,

Forgive each other;

Demonstrate God’s grace,

To one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us incredible examples of Your forgiveness and grace, though they are not deserved. Thank You that we all are in need of mercy and grace, as not one of us is without sin. Forgive us for holding stones in our hands, ready to throw, rather than slowing down to look at our own lives and recognize that we too have reason to receive retribution for our own offenses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set down our stones and seek Your strength and grace to extend to those around us. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace and goodness that You extend to us in our own spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set our stones in Your hands, and receive the goodness that You give in their place to extend to those around us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Give Ear to Hear

“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” – (Acts 11:3)  Though this may not sound like much to us today, at the time, the Jewish believers were shocked and confused at the potential scandal that Peter would dare enter the home of one who was considered unclean.  Far worse, he had not only gone into the home, but he had eaten there – which was a huge cultural faux pas at that particular point in history.

That being said, the early followers of Christ did something very right – they chose to hear him out – to truly listen to what he had to say first, before they began throwing stones.  As Peter shared with them, all that God had shown him, they were in awe and realized that God had sent His Holy Spirit and the message of salvation for all people, not just the Jews.  “When they had heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” – (Acts 11:18)

What if all people in the church were given the same opportunity to share their story?  Imagine the misinterpretations that would become clear, and the skewed perspectives that might be seen through His lens rather than our own…  Perhaps the solution can begin with each of us.  If we are uncertain about something that another says or does, we can go directly to the source and ask for clarity with kindness.  Humbly, we can seek to understand.  Beyond that, we are meant to extend grace to one another.  Each of us are in the process of being made more like Him.  However, not one of us has yet arrived.  Some days will be better than others, and on those “other” days, grace is the best gift that can be given.

Give ear to hear,Give Ear to Hear

what the heart does hold;

the unspoken,

the truth to behold.

Only by grace,

will story be known;

in the safety,

where kindness is shown.

Let our hearts hear,

what others need speak;

so truth is told,

when answers, we seek.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, and that no matter what we have done, we can always seek Your throne.  Thank You that You receive us as Your children, covered and cleansed, the moment we turn away from our sin and toward You.  Forgive us for not extending grace to others, as You extend it to us, and teach us to ask if we have questions, and to give grace and listen.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may move as You call us to move.  Help us to lavishly love and extend grace in such a way, that others are pointed directly unto You.  May many come to know You as Redeemer and King.  In Your mighty Name, Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Settling Stones

The stoning of Stephen is an overwhelming example of an individual responding just as Jesus did, in the face of suffering and persecution.  “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’  When he had said this, he fell asleep.” – (Acts 7:59-60)  As Stephen was actively in the throes of being killed, he prayed for forgiveness for those who were murdering him.

Though I have never faced trial for my faith, nor have never had my life threatened for who I am in Christ, I have been spoken to harshly, and have had to make a choice as to how to respond in the moment.  When people speak to me angrily or with unkindness, I have come to a place where I am most often able to respond in the opposite spirit.  However, I recognize that I don’t necessarily pray right away for forgiveness.  Typically, I find that I am grateful to God that something gracious came out of my mouth, yet in order to do as Christ did, I ought to also release the offender from the offense, immediately.  Often, it is not until much later, that I realize that I am still carrying some sort of irritation about the offense, and have to stop and release that which should have been let go, hours earlier.  It is not an intentional carry, yet it is a burden that I take on, adding to a load I am not meant to tow.

As others lift up,Settling Stones

their stones set to throw;

help me to release,

the anger they sow.

For I can’t control,

what others will do;

yet I can let go,

give the reigns to You.

Help me to forgive,

the moment deeds done;

so I don’t carry,

battles You have won.

May my heart respond,

with Your heart of grace;

so they may soon know,

Your loving embrace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us amazing examples in Your word of those who have gone before us and have forgiven others, as You ask us to forgive.  Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, who by His sacrifice and ultimate example of forgiveness and grace, made way for the Holy Spirit to come dwell in us, and empower us too, to extend the same forgiveness to others.  Forgive us for not listening to Your still small voice, or for holding onto grievances that You have asked us to lay down.  Help us to release wrongs against us – regardless of how great or small.  Lead us to love as You love, and to respond as You respond to all whom we encounter.  Let Your light be evident in all that we say and do.  May many come to know You as their Lord and Savior, through the grace that is given unto them.  Be glorified, our gracious God.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ.  – Ephesians 2:4-5