I saw a sign recently that read, "Do not judge others just because they sin differently than you."
Those signs that appear throughout our communities, whether they are in front of a church or a business, are there to make us think.
And I have been thinking about that one a lot.
Let's face it, we are all a bunch of sinners; every last one of us.
In John's gospel, chapter 8, John tells the story of a woman who was dragged kicking and screaming into the temple. A group of self-righteous men threw her down in front of Jesus, and they proclaimed, "We caught this woman in the act of adultery. Moses in the law commanded that she should be stoned. What do you say?"
Jesus looked around, and then he stooped down and started writing on the ground as if he hadn't heard them.
They continued asking him, "What do you say about this?"
Finally, Jesus stood up and said to them, "He that is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her."
After he made his statement, he once again stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Now, we don't know what he was writing on the ground, but John's gospel said that those men, from the oldest to the youngest, were convicted by their own conscience, and one by one they walked out of that place.
The woman was left standing there with Jesus and his followers.
When Jesus stood back up and he saw that all of those men had left, he asked the woman, "Where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?"
She looked at Jesus and said, "No man, Lord."
And Jesus said unto her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
That is one of the greatest stories of forgiveness in John's gospel.
Jesus said in John 3:17, "God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
It is easy for us to point our fingers at someone else that is doing wrong and say negative things about that person; to condemn them for their sin.
But, who among us is without sin?
Every one of us is a sinner in need of a savior; and God sent his son into the world to save us from our sin.
I have accepted his forgiveness, and I can say, "I am forgiven." But, I am not perfect--just forgiven.
Now, I am a preacher, and I am the pastor of two churches in our community, but I will be the first to admit that I am a sinner. I am a sinner saved by God's grace.
It is my task to proclaim the grace of God to the people who will listen.
Again, in John's gospel, in 3:16, we read, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
One day as a young man, I realized that I was in desperate need of a savior, and I cried out to Jesus Christ asking him to forgive me of my sins. And, He did; and I have never been the same since then.
I still mess up at times; I still think the wrong things, and I sometimes say the wrong things; and sometimes I do the wrong things. I still sin.
But, I have a savior, a sin-forgiver. His name is Jesus Christ.
And, I am not going to be the first one to pick up a stone to condemn someone else. But, I am determined to "go and sin no more."
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at email@example.com.