Jesus’ response to the adulteress woman in John 8 shows that compassion is not the same as condoning sin. The woman’s accusers were ready to stone her. Their main motive was to trap Jesus, it was not about upholding the law. Jesus, however, was ready to forgive her. He tells her that he does not condemn her but neither does he condone her sins. Before she leaves His presence, Jesus tells her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” The forgiveness of God is a package deal, it’s a release of what you did wrong but also a warning to not return to your sinful habits.
When ministering to people we must not offer cheap compassion; one that tells you that we are all sinners and that Jesus understands, without ever addressing the need to turn from sin. This approach opens the door to compromise and produces rotten fruit. In our culture the calling out of sin and a call to repentance is mislabeled as condemnation when in fact it is true love and compassion. In John 3:17, we are reminded that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. That salvation comes when one receives the love of Christ AND turn away from sin.
We must also not be like the Pharisees and call out sin because we have impure motives and hidden agendas. We should not call out sin because we want to make ourselves look more righteous or with the intent to humiliate the sinner. We also should not do it for the sake of winning an argument and prove our point. We should address sin because we have true concern for the soul of the sinner. When love is our motive, we are more like Jesus and can be effective in reaching the lost.