Focusing on Faults
“They say unto him, Master this woman was taken…in the very act.
…He lifted up himself, and said unto them, he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone"
- John 8: 4,7
In this story, I like to think that Jesus was also helping the accusers. When we spend a lot of energy focusing our thoughts on other people’s deficits, we become imprisoned. Our irritation and anger toward the other person locks us inside an unsettled state of unhappiness.
When we become angry about other people’s faults, our body has an undesirable physiological reaction. This reaction is unsettling and not peaceful. Sometimes, we assume that if we can just get the other person to stop, our anger will go away. This results in us focusing even more on the faults of others. The more we focus, the worse we feel, and the more upset we become at the person for not changing.
Had the accusers stoned the girl, she would have died. She would no longer be committing the act that was irritating the accusers. Jesus is the author of peace. It is very likely that he was teaching the accusers that harming their enemies, to make them stop being irritating, doesn’t bring peace. Instead, Jesus encouraged the accusers to look at themselves. They were encouraged to examine their own problems.
“ And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, …even until the last.”
- John 8: 9
As the accusers examined their own conscience they turned away from the accused. Turning away, both in our heart and in our mind, brings a sense of peace. When we do not allow our heart to accumulate animosity toward others, we feel lighter. When we do not allow our mind to dwell on the mistakes of others, we open our capacity for love.
“Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more"
- John 8:11
A key ingredient to having a peace of mind comes from repentance. In the famous Alcoholics Anonymous, the members are encouraged to make amends for wrongs they have committed. They are encouraged to let go of the wrongs that can no longer be changed. When this can be accomplished it brings restoration to the mind.
Another key ingredient is forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean that you are allowing yourself to be a victim. Forgiveness does not mean that you will forget the trespass. Forgiveness means you are giving the job of judgement and prosecution to someone else. Forgiveness means that you do not need the power of anger, hate, or animosity to keep you safe; so you let those feelings go.