“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared, “Go now and sin no more.”
Whenever I go hiking with my boys, inevitably they will start to pick up a shiny pebble as a souvenir. They stop, look through the dirt and grab some quartz or flakes of formica, maybe a smooth granite stone. And so they put their new find in their pocket.
Then, one of them will see a larger rock with a few more sparkles, and he tries to rush ahead of the other two. Digging out some of the dirt around them they lift their great find, proud of their accomplishment. That rock will encourage another to find a stone. And the stone will turn into who can hoist the biggest boulder along the route.
Envy, jealousy and selfishness start to emerge on our journey. With dusty pockets filled with little pebbles, they struggle to hold this larger rock in their hands. Often wrapping them in their t-shirts.
At this point the hike tends to slow down, the grumbling starts to escalate, and the pleas for someone else to carry their precious finds emit. Determined however, they lumber through the entire hike weighed down by these trinkets. What once brought a smile, now produces sweat as the hike continues.
Finally, as we return to the parking lot, a sense of relief comes over their weary shoulders. But as they climb into the car, I have to remind them…everytime…you are not taking home those rocks.
“But Dad, they are mine!,” they cry out.
“You made me carry them,” they argue. “No,” I patiently explain, “You picked them up.”
And so they drop the rocks and the pebbles and the dirt at the side of our car, and what was supposed to be a pleasant hike has turned into an exhausting trudge home with hurt feelings and bruised hearts.
This is the subtle deception of sin.
One of Devil’s tricks is he attacks us with the small, imperceivable point of a wedge in order to split us in two. The Splitter uses the deception of sin trying to convince us it is not a big deal. We pick up a small pebble thinking nothing about its long term impact. A little self-interest, a flash of hate, some cutting words, an ogling glance, a quick grab of some cash…where is the harm in that?
Sin, however, has a compounding effect on our lives. It’s like drinking poison that invades our body, intoxicating our souls, sneaking into our blood stream and slowly destroying us from the inside out. The little sips may seem bitter to the taste but inconsequential at first, because the pain will not be felt until later.
When Jesus confronts the woman caught in adultery, he closes with a charge that she “Go and sin no more.” Up until this morning, I have always heard this in a booming, judgmental and lecturing voice. “You better go from here and sin no more.”
But today, I heard God’s grace in that statement. I can go enjoy the hike of life without the temptation to pick up sin anymore. I was once just like my boys hiking the same trails picking up the same burdens. But Jesus has shown me how heavy, unfulfilling, hollow, and pointless are those rocks I have strapped to my back and lugged around in life. I can now live—not with fear that I will one day be tempted to pick up another pile of dirty, sinful rocks—but with a peace that I now see their true value (none) and their true burden (excruciating).
Jesus’ statement to the woman “to go and sin no more” is not a harsh command but a gracious invitation to lead a new life without having to carry the burden of sin ever again.
So what little pebbles of sin do you have stored in your pockets?