Question: Sometimes a single phrase, such as the saying of Jesus: “Neither do I condemn thee” can bring a great relief and peace. It is repeated for days and months, but the effect gradually falls off, till they are mere words. What goes wrong? Why does it not still have the original effect?
Answer: A holy text leads us on the way. But when it has had its effect in leading us on, and we try to stop there, then it is not on the way, but in the way.
The text was like the usher of a royal court, magnificent in his court uniform. But if when we come up to him, we stop in admiration, he will stand aside and wave us past. He may be impressive, but he is not the monarch.
The text “Neither do I condemn thee” gives relief from obsessive guilt about past sins. Unless it leads on to new life in action it loses its radiance. In fact the text reads on: “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.” This is an indication to express the gratitude by future action especially perhaps in forgiveness which Jesus himself has just shown.
© Trevor Leggett