I was so mad that I just wanted to throw something. It was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right at work, then home, then I had to deal with that child—the one who pushes all the buttons.
It wasn’t necessarily the one thing. It was all the things that allowed the one thing to create an internal combustion within my mind and then out of my throwing arm!
Why is it that one of our anger reflexes is throwing something? Is it the need for desperate release? Or perhaps the selfish desire to inflict harm—a hurt equivalent to our own amount of suffering? Maybe it’s a little bit of both, release and misdirected revenge on the closest target.
Scripture has a lot to say about anger, and, surprising, an important lesson about throwing stones.
You may be familiar with the verses about in your anger do not sin and don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Like me in the midst of my anger and frustration, you may have also wanted to throw something anyway.
Yet here’s the simple truth about anger and stones—You can’t throw what you don’t pick up.
Jesus did not necessarily say this to the Pharisees who brought an adulterous woman before him, but the lesson was received loud and clear. After demanding an answer from Jesus about the fate of the woman, He stands up and says in John 8:7 (NLT), “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
While the Jewish law permitted stoning and the woman’s sin called for it, no one picked up a stone. Not one.
It was a pivotal gospel moment when the Old ran headlong into the New. Jesus turned the law and the prideful lawmakers upside down and inside out.
In fact, Deuteronomy 17:5-7 (NLT) states, “then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you.”
Don’t miss those last few important details of the law. Putting someone to death required two or three witnesses AND the witnesses must throw the first stones.
But no one picked up a stone. Not one.
There was no desperate release, no misdirected revenge. The Pharisees’ trap did not work. In fact, Jesus’ timely words caused each and every potential witness to look within. The anger they harbored in their minds was quickly and succinctly redirected toward the sin in their hearts.
You see, Jesus was preparing His way to the cross through the misdirected anger of accusers. As He ran his fingers through the sand, He knew the only witnesses Who could testify to the Truth were found in the Trinity.
Jesus alludes to this later in John 8:17-18 (NLT), “Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”
Yet Jesus, the only one without sin, did not pick up a stone either. Instead, He extended mercy and grace and released the woman from misdirected revenge. He turned the law upside down and exposed the Pharisees’ sin from the inside out.
Jesus met anger with truth. He met potential stones with pearls of wisdom.
So the next time you get angry just remember, you can’t throw what you don’t pick up. Leave the stones of bitterness, betrayal, revenge, reaction, despair and desperation on the ground at the foot of the cross.
Like the woman caught in adultery or misguided love, lift your eyes to meet Jesus. Receive His mercy and grace. Then go and sin no more. Be His witness. Let your life testify to the truth.