By Tyler Warner
In the book of Genesis, Noah stands as a pillar of righteousness, chosen by God to survive the great Flood with his family. But in Genesis 9, we find him passed out drunk and shamefully exposed in his tent. His youngest son, Ham, sees him in that state and goes to tell his brothers. He chose to shame his father publicly for his failure, maybe out of resentment for his dad’s upright life – “Aha! Look at the old man, now. See if I ever let you lecture me again!” But when Noah’s other sons, Shem and Japheth heard about it, they reacted differently. They placed a garment over their shoulders, walked backwards into the tent and covered their father without looking at him. For this they were blessed, while Ham’s son, Canaan, was cursed.
Maybe you have been in that situation before. You’ve identified yourself as a Christian only to lose your temper or engage in coarse jesting. The people around you pile on and make a mockery of you and your hypocrisy. Maybe you’ve actually done this to someone else. You’ve shamed someone for their failure in the church, or ranted online about the inexcusable behavior of some public figure. In such situations, they may be in the wrong, but we are certainly not in the right.
Consider the story of the woman caught in adultery from John 8. She was hauled before Jesus, and they tried to corner Him into calling for her execution. Instead Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). When the two were left alone Jesus told her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).
Jesus chose to exercise mercy rather than judgment. He did what Shem and Japheth did in covering the sin of the one who had fallen. This is mercy – choosing to withhold judgment out of kindness and love. It is what God did for us by passing over our sins by the blood of Jesus at the cross. And it ought to characterize the way we behave towards one another. Rubbing someone’s sin in their face does not lead to repentance, it leads to bitterness. And exposing the sin of another person does nothing to make us more righteous.
Ought we not to have pity for those who are discovered in their shame? Mercy can change a life – it changed mine! Let God handle the judgment of men, and let us be those who show mercy and grace to the ones who are broken. Treat others with the same forbearance you would want for yourself. As Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Tyler Warner is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Trussville. CCT meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30am, at 5239 Old Springville Rd. Listen to Tyler’s verse-by-verse Bible teaching at CalvaryChapelTrussville.com or Sundays at 8:30am on 101.1 FM.