Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Sir, do you have any idea how fast you were driving?
There is literally no correct way for me to answer this question. It’s a trap, friends. If I say “no” then I show myself to be negligent and lacking basic awareness of my own actions behind the wheel. If I say “yes” then I am openly admitting that I was completely aware of breaking the law and did it anyways. So I’ve been put in an impossible situation. A sheepish, “um, maybe 30?” seemed like a nice middle ground.
It did not impress.
License and registration, please.
Truth be told, I was going too fast.
Last week I driving to a trailhead for a run and found myself on a small road in the middle of NOWHERE controlled by the DE Fish and Game Commission. Apparently, all Fish and Game Commission roads have a 20mph speed limit. Also apparently, I was driving faster than the prescribed 20mph speed limit. In my defense, I would have gone slower if I had known I’d get in trouble.
It's annoying to be caught and be told that you are doing something wrong, isn’t it? It makes you feel terrible. And awaiting the consequences while the police checked out my “license and registration” was no great way to spend a 5pm on Friday, either.
But when he returned, the officer looked at me and said, “well, we’re going to just give you a verbal warning this time. Please be careful, that’s too fast around here. Have a good day.”
Oh, the sweet nectar of compassion!
Well, this was indeed a very different feeling than I was expecting. I thought I was condemned, but truth be told, I felt a little bit like I had just won the lottery. Woohoo! I’m free!
And I was. There was no condemnation! And yet something in me had changed a little, even though I hadn’t actually been punished.
Without question, I left that parking lot driving a bit more slowly than before. And the next time I come there, I’ll be carefully taking my time on the way in. There was a lesson there, as hard as it was for me to admit. And in the end, I’m glad it happened the way it did. I’m better for it…….
This is the power of conviction in the life of a Jesus follower. This is also very different from guilt or condemnation. We are tempted to live with two competing mentalities. The first tells us that we are constantly condemned. We walk around feeling like we will never live up to anyone’s (including God’s) expectations. We base everything off of the rules we follow or break, and our lives are characterized by both of those things. And that's why many people observe, like my one dear friend did, that “so many Christians are the least free people I’ve ever met.” If that’s the case, we’re not following Jesus so well. He came to set us free.
The other mentality is that, because there is no condemnation from God as we trust Jesus, we no longer need to spend any time on self-development as disciples. We shouldn't really ever feel bad or change our behavior because we are under grace. But that misses the point too. We have been given the Holy Spirit so that we can have assurance that we are not condemned, but also have a little (or big!) nudge that sets us on the correct path when we’re moving in the wrong direction. And because of that amazing two-fold reality, we can rejoice in both the grace and the conviction that comes our way. The Spirit slows us down to ask, “Do you realize how fast you were going there?” Yet consistently comes back and says, "You have another chance. But make the better choice tomorrow. You can do it.”
We need that, friends. What a gift to have a Spirit of both grace and truth in our lives.
Jesus, help me become aware of the areas of life I’m speeding through dangerously. Teach me a better way.