I often justify my anger by telling myself that I’m not like the person I’m angry at. If someone gives me the finger for no good reason while I’m driving, I instantly feel like I have a right to be mad, because I would never treat anyone that way.
I feel justified in my frustration at that rude driver, because I don’t flip people off when they tick me off. So I must be a better person, right? And if I’m a better person, I can rightly judge that driver for his wrongdoing, can’t I?
Of course, I know I sin in some ways, but I don’t sin the same as that driver. So when it comes to his sins, I have every right to be critical of him. We’re different.
But Jesus disagrees.
In the story of him saving the adulteress from being stoned, he didn’t say, “Let him who has never committed adultery be the first to throw a stone at her.”
If he had, she would’ve been quickly pounded by numerous self-justified stones, because surely most of the crowd hadn’t sinned like this woman had.
But no, Jesus doesn’t seem to rank sins like we do. He says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
He seems to have two categories in this story: perfect and not perfect. So what Jesus really suggests is, if you are in the latter category, what in the world do you think you’re doing judging other people who are also imperfect just like you?
The fact that I’m imperfect in a different way—that I don’t sin the same as the guy who gave me the old highway salute—is totally irrelevant to Jesus. As long as I’m any kind of sinner, no matter how benign my faults might seem, I am still just that—a sinner, the same as an adulteress or a gesticulatively angry driver.
There is only one place I belong, and it’s not standing with stones in my fists, threatening someone else in the “not perfect” category. No, the only place I belong is crouching in hope at the feet of Jesus with the adulteress, and hopefully, with that other guy on the interstate, too.