Discipleship Spiritual Disciplines

When Rules Rule Relationships Suffer

My pastor has been teaching/preaching through a series off the book Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Yesterday he spoke on the subject “More than Rules.” As Pastor David preached he said something that just stood out to me. He said,

No body falls in love with a rule.

We all are built with an desire to love and be loved. Rules do not give us this relational reality. We want someone who knows us and accepts us for who we are, fallen and flawed. I guess part of the problems is that we have to see ourselves this way first. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if we do something long enough and with enough conviction we will see the love come to us that we want. The relationship has to come first. We have to learn to see one another and received one another first. Then, and only then, when the rules come, we will not use them against each other.

The story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8 reveals this. Pastor David used this story as the back drop for teaching. The gist of the story is this. A woman is caught “in the act” by a group of religious leaders. How they managed to do this is not stated, but we can imagine that it was not lucky timing. This mob drags this woman in front of Jesus and then they put the question to Jesus. “This woman was caught in adultery, what should we do? The law (the rules) say that we should stone her.”

Jesus doesn’t play the game. What does he do? He distracts the crowd from the woman, who is ashamed and terrified beyond description and starts writing on the ground. What does he write? We have no idea, and in the end it doesn’t matter. But, after a few moments Jesus makes his own announcement. “Let any one of you who has never sinned throw the first stone to kill this woman.”

We do not know how it happened, but the image, or rather the sound that fills my imagination is the sound of stone upon stone falling to the ground.




When the crowd is gone there are only two remaining, the sinner, an adulterous woman, and the Judge. Yes, the judge is there. Jesus is the savior, he is the Messiah, he is the greater forgiver of sin. But, what was Jesus question? He said, “Let any one of you who has never sinned throw the first stone to kill this woman.” Jesus was the only one in the crowd who was without sin! He WAS the judge, he had every right to pick up the stone of judgment and strike this sinful woman down for her sin. But, that is not what he did. The judge did not judge because when rules rule, relationships suffer.

This fact in the story is one of the most astounding facts of the event. The one man that could have, did not. If the one man who knew the rules and lived by them did not participate in this execution, what are we supposed to take away from this moment? I think there are three ideas that we can take away from this event in John 8.

  1. When Rules become more important than relationships we have lost our way.
  2. Relationships are hard, but worth the effort.
  3. Just because you could pronounce judgment does not mean you should.


Conversations are great. Let me know what you think or are thinking!

About the author

Victor Scott

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, and author. I am an avid Cubs fan and a lover of Chicago-style Deep Dish pizza.

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