Living in Glass Houses

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

My mom used to say that when she thought someone was being judgmental and ungracious. It was her little reminder that becoming a rock thrower is a dangerous occupation if only for the reason that someone may visit your own glass house with a rock in hand. She knew that everyone lives in a glass house.

Jesus had his own version of the saying. A story from the book of John tells the story of a crowd of men who literally drug a woman out of the arms of her paramour and threw her down at Jesus’ feet. Each was clutching a rock, ready to commence hurling them at her. Jesus said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.”

In another “glass house” saying Jesus said that we should not attempt to take a tiny speck out of a brother or sisters’ eye, all the while having a large beam in our own. Jesus was exaggerating, of course. But he knew that to pretend to be able to judge someone else’s life is to ignore the faults in your own. Nothing is uglier than a person with obvious faults pretending to be the moral high-water mark.

Jesus said, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging,” The Message.

Jesus repeated this principle over and over during his life. In the Lord’s prayer he told us to pray, “Father forgive us to the same degree that we forgive others.” In other words, if we want God to forgive us, we must be willing to do the same for our fellow human beings.

Judging of the destructive sort does not seek a restoration of relationships, it only seeks to point the finger and blame. You’d never hear this judger asking, “How can we rectify the problem?”

The men carrying the stones had no qualifications for judging the woman. They did not know what desperation may have been at work in her life. And they certainly were not sin-free themselves.

No stones were thrown that day.