ODJ: compassion—not condemnation

February 3, 2015 

READ: John 8:3-11 

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you? . . . Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Romans 2:4).

An episode of the BBC show Call the Midwife, set years ago in London, tells the story of a mother who reluctantly prepared to have her unborn baby adopted as soon as she was born. She did so because the child hadn’t been fathered by her husband. And it was probably going to be obvious, for the skin color of the baby’s biological father was black while the woman and her husband were white.

The social worker handling the adoption took a condemning look at the woman and sneered, “By the look of things, we should proceed as swiftly as we are able.” Moments later, she smugly remarked to the midwife, “It never ceases to lift the soul: the type of parents willing to take on abandoned children.”

“I’m not abandoning my baby!” the mother replied. “I don’t have a choice in this!” The social worker snapped, “Isn’t it more of a case of consequences? So much less palatable than the actions that led to them.” To which the midwife said, “Then let us be grateful that we are not faced with them. And let us feel compassion for those who are.”

The midwife’s words brought to mind the words Jesus spoke to the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:3-11). “Didn’t even one of [your accusers] condemn you? . . . Neither do I” (vv.10-11). Unlike those who had condemned her, He didn’t rub her nose in the obvious. Instead, Jesus offered her rare compassion, something that showed there was hope and a future for her.

Jesus didn’t offer a ‘soft love’ that implied, “Do whatever you please”. He showed a kindness that invited the woman to turn her heart and actions in a better direction: “Go and sin no more” (v.11).

Lives are transformed when we lovingly present the unfailing compassion of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2). —Jeff Olson

365-day plan› Exodus 4:1-17

Read Romans 2:1-4 and consider what it says about condemning others, and note the compassion of God. 
What do you think is most important—pointing out someone’s sin or showing that person God’s love? How has God shown you His compassionate ways? 
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