We live in a world of who’s right and what’s wrong. Every day ESPN’s SportsCenter shares stories of controversy. Facebook is filled with arguments and disagreements of opinion. I’m always trying to figure out what is right so I can communicate it clearly. So then, is being right what’s most important?
The Scripture teachers of Jesus’ day were very sure they were right, so in John 8 they brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and asked Him to confirm their rightness. Deuteronomy 22:22-23 clearly commands that a woman caught in adultery should be stoned to death. However, Jesus points out that the teachers’ “rightness” did not make them righteous. A few chapters earlier in John 5:39, Jesus told the teachers: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess [the blessedness of the righteous], yet you refuse to come to Me to be made righteous.”
In contrast to the “rightness” mentality, true righteousness requires mercy. Mercy is being right and acknowledging the wrong, but then offering compassion. If we are going to be righteous in God’s eyes, we need the mercy of Jesus through His shed blood for the forgiveness of our sins. We’ll never be right enough. Yet even when we’re wrong, He can make us righteous.
Jesus acknowledged that the woman caught in adultery was wrong. He also indicated that the teachers were wrong in other areas of their lives. Commentaries suggest that while pretending not to listen, Jesus was writing their sins on the ground, proving they deserved death as well. And yet He offered mercy to all of them. Did they receive it?
You and I long to be right, and we often spend a great deal of time trying to prove it to others. But the reality is that Jesus offers us righteousness even when we’re wrong. Have you received His mercy? Have you extended it to others? Choose Mercy.