Friday, July 31, 2009

The Man With The Stone

An older man was accompanying his wife to a hospital for some minor surgery. A nurse noticed something odd about this caretaker. He was carrying a stone in his hand. Just a small rock that appeared to be well-worn and smooth.

The nurse had to ask, "Why are you carrying a stone in your hand? Is it a good luck charm?" The man was obviously used to having this question posed to him. "I carry this stone wherever I go. I never let go of it and I always have it in my hand." The medical personnel inquired further, "How long have you carried the stone and why do you have it in your possession?"

The man took a deep breath as he repeated a story told many times. I've been carrying this stone in my hand for over twenty years. I turn it over and over in my hand throughout the day. When I first started carrying the rock, it was rough and had many jagged, rough edges. But now it is smooth and the rough edges are worn down."

The elderly gentleman proceeded to explain the story behind the rock. "in John 8 of the New Testament Jesus is confronted by the Jewish leaders who bring to him a woman who had been caught committing adultery. Under the Law of Moses, this woman is supposed to be stoned to death for her transgressions. But Jesus looked at the potential stone throwers and peered into their souls saying, 'he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.' Realizing their hypocrisy and their own sin, they dropped their stones and disassembled. Jesus looked at the poor woman hovering on the ground near his feet as she waited for the first stone to be cast. Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are your accusers? . . . Go and sin no more!"

Now it started to make sense why this man carried this stone. The once-jagged rock reminded him of his own sins and as God worked in his life to transform him, the stone became more smooth and the rough edge were worn away as he turned the stone over and over in his hand. The smoothness of the stone spoke of his humility before the Lord as he considered his own sins. The more the Lord confronted him with the truth about his sins, and he repented and sought forgiveness, the smoother the stone became.

I though this was a wonderful example of Christian thinking. Instead of being ready to throw stones, we should be hesitant due to the awareness of our own sins.

I carried the analogy a little further as I contemplated what takes place when two people are married. Instead of one stone, in a marital situation we carry an additional stone in our hand - our spouse. We carry our own rock with all its rough edges along with the stone of our spouse with his or her rough edges. The task of marriage is to keep those stones as close as possible so that through marital closeness and honesty, we are able to smooth out our differences and adjust to one another and show humility before one another. In addition, the two rough stones of husband and wife are being smoothed out by the Spirit of the Living God.

The problem with most marriages is that we uses the stones in our hands to throw at one another. We are quick to pick out faults or focus on traits that are not changing. Rather than humility to see our own transgressions, we hurl our stones using our words and actions to hurt each other. We are like the Pharisees who are quick to see the faults of the adulterous woman but we fail to see our own infidelities to God.

We have three choices: we can drop our stones and become one those people who refuse to discern the faults of others and repeat the false mantra of never judging one another. Second, we can act like a person who has no sin and cast our stones at other people to make ourselves appear to be righteous. Finally, we can become a person who sees the sins of others but remembers our own sins and remains humble before the Lord. This is the person who sees the faults of others and is able to point them out but in a gentle and kind way that leads them to repentance instead of just fruitless self-condemnation.

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