Sandy was a young lady who had given her life over to Christ and was living for Him in mighty ways. However, she would often face questions about her past from family members and individual acquaintances. Week after week Sandy would encounter someone who would bring up something she used to engage in. Before long, Sandy was allowing the treatment from others to have an extreme impact on the way she was viewing the Lord’s forgiveness of her past.
One day, a woman named Norma, took Sandy under her wing to mentor. As the Holy Spirit began to work in Sandy’s heart, a newfound freedom began to emerge. Sandy eventually came to the realization that even though others were choosing to live in her history, she no longer had to. Sandy experienced an even greater liberty from people’s judgment, of not only her past, but of what they deemed her future to be. The only opinion that mattered to Sandy was that of the Lord’s.
Out of the many factors we have to overcome in regards to our past, both the pain we have inflicted on others and the judgment of so many in our lives are two of the hardest. Yet one of the greatest victories will occur as we learn how to deal with those factors Biblically.
I knew my sin had caused hurt in numerous people’s lives while causing disappointment in others. I also knew that through God’s leading, I had a responsibility to make it right with those whom my sin had affected. As God led me in this process, I experienced His presence and peace as well as the forgiveness of others.
Yet one of the best life changing lessons took place when God moved my spirit to respond to what He had to say about my life. No matter how others may have viewed me, God was calling my heart to comply with His opinion and His alone.
I remember sitting in the middle of my den, in Birmingham, Alabama, reading a story that impacted me greatly. It was the account of a woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery. As she was brought to Jesus by a group of men who desired to see her stoned, she was soon to be overtaken by the love of a Savior on her behalf. After suggestions were sought of what should be done to the woman, a question was then posed to Jesus —“What then do You say?”
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” (John 8:1-5)
Jesus’ reply not only shocked the woman, but caused the men to look at their own lives as well. He stated, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” At his response the stone throwers walked away one by one.
My heart became captivated by the moment in which Jesus was alone with the woman. (John 8:9) I can just see her now, broken, ashamed and afraid. Yet she stayed with Jesus. I believe that something inside of her knew that the man staring at her was an individual who loved and cared for her soul. So instead of running, she remained.
As Jesus looked at the woman he made it clear that she was no longer condemned by the Pharisees, nor was she condemned by Him. He then told her to go and to sin no more.
There are two things I want to bring out from this story that apply to anyone who has a past. Number one, there may be people in your life who desire to expose your sin in front of others for their own personal gain. If this happens, we must let God avenge His own. Don’t allow yourself to get entangled with individuals trying to cause hurt. God will take care of you.
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17 NASB)
Number two, there may be people along the way who talk about you while refusing to forgive your past mistakes. If this happens, I want to encourage you to refrain from making it your mission to defend yourself. Your living for Christ will be your defense. You never have to say a word.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. 8 The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting.” (Psalm 138:7-8a NASB)
Today, we are surrounded with Pharisees- always focusing on other people’s faults instead of on their own. If we do not guard our hearts, we can start believing what the Pharisees of our lives think of us, and lean toward imagining that God reflects the same thoughts. Our hearts can become ensnared when we start trusting in man’s opinion over that of God’s.
When people come against you or doubt God’s desire to use your life, you too can pose the question, “What then do You say, Lord?” For God’s answer is what matters the most.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for encouraging me to live my life based on who You say I am. Help me, as I move forward, to hold fast to Your hand as You lead me to Your future. In Jesus’ name, Amen.