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Red-handed or scot-free?


Where are your accusers?

Have they caught you red-handed or did you get off scot-free?

We are guilty in so many ways. We have gotten off the hook way more than we have paid the price.

We know when we have gotten away with it even when no one else has a clue.

But no one gets off scot-free one hundred percent of the time. 

The expression ‘scot-free’ comes from the Scandanavian word, ‘Skat,’ which means “tax” or “payment.” The word evolved into ‘scot’ as the name for redistributive taxation meant to provide relief to the poor during the 10th century. Someone who did not have to pay the tax was referred to as ‘scot-free.

Being caught red-handed is rough.

Who wants to be caught red-handed? No one. But it happens!

The origin of ‘caught red-handed’ came from Scotland during the 15th century, when it was used to describe capturing a murderer who still had blood on his hands.

If you have ever got off scot-free or have got caught red-handed, you have felt the weight of your deeds.

Jesus encountered a mob who had caught a woman red-handed in an act worthy of stoning. She was busted. No denying the truth. She was backed into a corner with few options. Her accusers had her surrounded.

Have you ever felt that way? You fall short and everyone stands ready to capture the setback on their cell phone and post the scoop on social media? You are guilty and your accusers are ready to tighten the noose.

Jesus gives a beautiful alternative. Before the accusers step up to deliver the outcome, he makes a subtle but powerful suggestion. Go ahead and impose the justice that is deserved but let the verdict be delivered by the one who has not been caught red-handed. Let the one that got off scot-free launch the first round of punishment.

Reality sets in. Who are we to cast the first stone? By what authority are we qualified to judge and accuse? We too are guilty. We too deserve to pay the fine for our lack of judgement.

No doubt justice must be served but Jesus demonstrated that love, mercy and grace are worth considering when reformation is the goal. We need not be soft on crime, abuse or neglect. But we should consider the power of love to transform a heart.

We do well when we lay down stones that tear people down and pick up stones that build things and people up.

Where are your accusers? They are certainly out there. Who are you prone to accuse? The targets are well within range. 

What will you do with the stones at your feet? Pick them up or pass them by knowing these same stones could have been meant for you?

Lord have mercy! And he does! Even when we are caught red-handed and get off scot-free.



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