I have discovered in all my years of attending churches, that there is one primary quality that differentiates fake lovers from real lovers (Christians). The difference can be found in the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8.
The Woman Caught in Adultery
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were continually trying to frame him. They were envious of Him because of His popularity with 'the sinners' and the masses. This time the religious leaders caught a woman in the act of adultery and brought her to Jesus for sentencing.
Apparently, this woman was having sex with a man who wasn’t her husband. A bunch of religious leaders (fake lovers) stormed into the private rendezvous and grabbed the naked woman and brought her into the open public to have her condemned. The fake lovers asked Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (John 8:4-5 NIV)
These religious guys were so full of themselves and were trying to use this woman as a trap for Jesus. They gathered in a circle around Jesus and the woman, each with stone in hand, ready to bring her justice. The woman was probably only wearing the sheet of her shame and in tears knowing that she was about to face imminent death. Like all of us have done at one time or another, she was searching for love in all the wrong places.
The self-righteous fake lovers were testing Jesus. What did He do? He calmly stooped down to the dirt and began drawing with His finger. Who knows what He was drawing? Maybe He wrote her a secret message in the sand. One thing is for certain, He was collecting His thoughts so He could respond to these vultures.
Jesus stood to His feet as if resurrected to life and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He stooped back down to draw in the dirt. What happened next? One by one, all the self-righteous fake lovers dropped their stones and walked away. Here’s the sad thing that I have discovered in some churches and religious circles today. Many assume they are without sin and are happy to cast verbal stones. If you are a verbal or literal stone thrower, you missed the point of this whole story. Everybody dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus remained.
What did Jesus mean by the statement, “He who is without sin…be the first to throw a stone…” Every single one of them was guilty of sin. Who knows, maybe they secretly had lust in their hearts toward the half-nude woman? Certainly, they were envious of Jesus' love and influence over the people. Maybe their sin was greed and they used their power to rob the masses in the “name of God.” Maybe their sin was pride for thinking that they were “better than her" because they never stooped that low. It didn’t really matter what their sin was, every single one of them was guilty of something as Jesus so clearly pointed out.
The Difference Between Real Love and Fake? Stones
What is the #1 difference between a true lover and the fake ones? The fake lovers are in the shadows casting proverbial stones at your every flaw and sin. They want to humiliate you. They want to tear you down. They wouldn't mind seeing you dead. This only reveals that there hearts are full of hatred and self-righteousness. The last time I checked, stones never healed a broken heart. Shame on them. Total cowards. They were more guilty of sin than her. They needed to drop their stones and walk away so real love could stay.
The real lovers? They will take on the whole world for you. They will stand against an angry self-righteous mob on your behalf. The real lovers will have your back no matter what. They will risk their own life and reputation to save you. Real lovers are lionhearted. Real lovers will force the crowd to drop their stones and then mend your heart. This is what it means to truly love.
Jesus turned to the woman and said, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Jesus neither condoned her sin, nor condemned her. He certainly didn't humiliate her for her inappropriate actions. He loved her and defended her publicly, then he told her not to sin any longer. What she needed that day wasn’t humiliation, justice, or stones. What she needed was for someone to love her despite her mistakes. She needed an ally who would love her unconditionally.
She wanted someone to show her that she no longer needed to live a secret life in the shadows. She longed for someone to take on the whole world with her. She was craving genuine love. She found Him that day in the strangest of ways: at her sentencing. The judge extended mercy and pronounced her "free." Isn't that what real love looks like? Mercy instead of justice. Love's name was Jesus.
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion (mercy), and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Matthew 9:13 NASB)
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11 NASB)
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NASB)