Mercy Alleviates Suffering: Seven Principles from John 8:2–11

(An excerpt from Cultivating Love: When Secrets Surface by Dr Ken McGill)

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.

3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture and I would encourage you to read it before you read ahead to the principles and the questions that follow. As you meditate and reflect on the principles in this passage, it is my hope that they will function as “hyperaccelerators” in your head and heart. Remember, hyperaccelerators are the plants that promote a quicker change within the soil, and in this case, the change you are working toward is the inclusion of mercy as the purpose and function of Mercy (Eleemos) is to alleviate your suffering and the suffering of others. Thank you for reflecting on these points. I encourage you to share your responses with your spouse, your therapist, or other safe people in your support network, and of course, with your God. The points are:

1. Start your day off right, with God (v. 2): Jesus started his day teaching in the Temple Courts. I encourage you, either at the start of the day or even before your feet hit the floor, to start praying and ask God to guide you in the way you are to go, with your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Question: How could my day be different if I incorporated this principle to let God lead my thoughts from the moment I wake up and arise, especially around the issues connected to infidelity?

2. Don’t look for trouble: It will probably find you soon enough (v. 3): You will want to be prepared to deal with the problems that, unfortunately, will surface and come your way, pertaining to the infidelity. Question: What do I need to do to adequately prepare for the triggers, intrusive thoughts, urges, cravings, obsessions and rumination? What is my responsibility for managing my own pain? What help do I need (and whom will I ask)?

3. Realize the insidious plans of the Enemy to inflict greater suffering on you and your spouse (v. 3): This is a three for one deal. In one swoop, the Enemy influenced people of faith to inflict devastation on the life of this woman while seeking to destroy the power and effectiveness of Jesus and His message of mercy. Question: How is the Enemy warring against me, causing internal and external doubt, conflict, mistrust, and fear, about my abilities and my faith in God? Just as important, how is the Enemy tempting me to war against my spouse, my flesh, whom I took a vow to love, honor and cherish? How might the message(s) of “well-intentioned” others work against what I know and believe to be true in my heart? What behaviors do I need to implement immediately in order to deliver me from the effect of the Evil One?

4. Question: Do I take advantage of the opportunities to demonstrate mercy (by being influenced by the Holy Spirit) versus CONvicting another (by engaging in condemnation, as influenced by the Enemy)? There is an interesting interplay with three words here. The words are Eleos (Mercy), Elencho (v. 9 — to lay bare, show, expose, convict) and Eleutheros (freedom, in a state of freedom, versus slavery). The shame-based accusers wanted to CONvict the woman and Jesus by entrapping and exposing her shamefully, while also seeking to entrap and expose Jesus in a high-stakes “game” of religious legalism. This is the CONvicting part. Jesus on the other hand, seeing their desire to shamefully show, expose and lay bare “the sins of another” practices Elencho, by conVICTing the men while showing them that the heart of the law is Mercy (Eleos). By conVICTing them, which is a function of the Holy Spirit, He also frees (Eleutheros) them from their homicidal ideation and intent and her, from shameful and terribly traumatizing life experience. Asked differently, do I work to inflict more hurt and harm, or, do I work to create health and healing?

5. The exposing thing needs to be taken a step or two further. Do you ever wonder why Jesus does all of this sitting (v.6), standing (v.7), sitting (v.8), and then standing up again (v.10)? I think the woman was in some form of disrobement, and they “threw her in the face of Jesus” to provoke, trap and accuse Jesus (v.6) of some form of sexual misconduct. The word used here (Peirazo) means “to test by solicitation to sin, entice and allure, with the intent to prove that someone has been evil.” Now I get the down-up, down-up behavior. Not only does He remove Himself from temptation, but He also does not add to the pain, hurt and shame that the woman must be experiencing. He shows respect by creating a “safer” place for the woman and for Him, by the behavior that He demonstrates and by the focus of His words. Question: Do I work to create a safe environment with the opposite gender, much less for any traumatized (or addicted) person, by being a safe person, who creates safe experiences for myself and for others to feel safe, in my presence?

6. Question: How old will I be, before I realize that mercy fits my hands much better than a stone (v.9)? If given the opportunity, what do I write in the sand? Mercy or Murder? CONvict or conVICT? Condemnation or Freedom? What do I want my heart to resemble? The heart of an Unhealed Wounder (who hurls hurt at others) or the heart of a Wounded Healer (who works to alleviates the suffering of others)? What kind of 7 Core Area (Spiritual, Cognitive, Emotional, Physical/Biological, Sexual, Social/Relational, Environmental) restructuring has to occur in me in order for me to help someone who is severely traumatized to be able to say, “I feel no condemnation?”

7. You are not condemned. What will you do with your freedom? Will you go and sin no more, or, said another way, will you go, and learn how to live? This is an opportunity for you to either remember or to learn, what Love actually is. Addiction enslaves both of you to condemnation and despair. Mercy alleviates Suffering and facilitates Freedom.

TeleHealth/Video counseling sessions are available for those who prefer to meet online – Dr. McGill

Businesswoman presses button psychological counseling online on virtual screens. technology, internet and networking concept.

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