Have you heard the biblical expression “He who is without sin cast the first stone?” Perhaps you have heard the passage containing that saying. If so, then those days in Sunday school were certainly not a waste of time. But what does this piece of ancient wisdom really mean in society today?

In this ever-changing world, the one thing we must keep intact is our faith. Not only is faith in God essential, but faith in ourselves and in mankind must be maintained, too. It is through understanding ourselves and others that we can learn to avoid those impulses to cast the first stone.

What Does It Mean to Cast the First Stone?

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With all this mention of casting the first stone, we had better stop and examine what this means in layman’s terms. It is indeed from scripture, and more specifically from John 81:11 in the New Testament. In one rendering, the full passage is: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

The event at hand reflects the imposition of Mosaic law as it pertains to adultery.  It was understood that anyone caught committing adultery was to be stoned to death. The Pharaohs at this time gathered together and brought a woman before Jesus who had committed this crime. But he knew the law and saw that something was missing from the start: the other person who committed this sin with the woman. The law states that both parties were to be condemned. This was the first of two mistakes that occurred at this meeting.

The other mistake was that they brought her to Jesus to make the decision. They didn’t care about her, but rather they were looking to Jesus to step in as the executioner and overall bad guy. Jesus, not reacting unkindly, let it be known that if they wanted her to be stoned that whoever is free of sin could cast the first stone at her. This was what ultimately led to her being saved from stoning.

No one among them could cast that stone at her, for they had committed sins which prevented them from doing so. When Jesus was left with her, she waited for judgment or punishment, but he simply told her to go forth, live her life, and be free of sin.

We can apply what Jesus did in this situation with the Pharaohs to our own lives by being aware of the sin around us. How we treat others in person, online through social media, and even what we repeat from media news impacts us profoundly. When we reflect, we realize we do not have the right to condemn others for their sins. Applying God’s word to our daily lives is the key to living a life free of sin, or at least a far more righteous life than we might otherwise.

The Importance of Understanding

We all want to be understood in our lives. As children and throughout our growing years, we want our parents to accept us because that acceptance makes us feel like they really understand us. A common understanding, combined with empathy, forms the basis of most relationships, whether with parents, children, colleagues or friends.

How to Be a More Understanding Person

There are many things to think about when trying to understand another person better. If you remember these considerations, you will enrich your life and the lives of those around you by being a more understanding citizen and individual.

Others’ Feelings Are Important

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Take a moment and really try to “get” what is bothering your companion. Don’t assume you know and work off that premise. When we take a moment and listen to what is going on, it shows that we care enough about another’s feelings to try to understand them more deeply.

Engage in Real Conversation

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Truly participate when you talk with another person! Let them know you understand what they are saying. If you are unclear on what they are upset about at some point, then ask them to clarify. This alone will show them that you are eager to help and want to understand them. You might want to share something from your own experience to aid in reaching a mutual point of understanding.

Be Careful Judging from First Reactions

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Don’t take a person’s first reaction as the sum total of how he feels or who she is. Everyone gets angry and upset at times. Remember that you have your “moments” of anger and frustration as well… and that you probably do not want to be judged as a person during those times.

Accept that People Prioritize Their Own Needs

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We all have busy, demanding lives. Don’t take everything someone does personally, even when it happens to affect you. That approach is counter to harmony in your life and in the lives of others. From one perspective, it can seem that people generally look out only for themselves. Unless they have made a personal commitment to helping others, it may rarely occur to them to do so.

It is important to remember this reality because people have such different ethical views, especially in regard to helping others and sacrificing to do so. It is crucial to understand why a person may act selfishly in a given situation before you cast the first stone. You may later observe this person acting gracefully and charitably, after all.

Imagine Trading Places

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Mentally switching roles or seats with another person can lead to better understanding. While we are different in a lot of ways, from education to religion to political views and other traits, we all have many things in common, too.  We all have dreams of success and wishes for happiness. These are good goals to strive for and they connect us all. Sometimes it is hard to look past another’s differences to get to the real person underneath, but that is truly what it takes to gain a better understanding of another person.

Account for the Diversity of Human Life

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We are not all from the same place, nor are we all of one religion or fundamental philosophy. It is best to avoid letting others’ actions taint your own and make you cast the first stone in tough situations. Instead, seek knowledge and discern issues and human needs for yourself. That will be the basis for your own understanding: one that is personal and right for you. There are many differences that could divide us each day, but don’t lose sight of what we have in common regardless of our origins and diverse beliefs.

Let Go of Your Own Barriers

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Be open about who you are. Doing this will encourage others to do the same. Don’t let fear be your guide. Let go of your own barriers and insecurities and get to know the person you’re trying to help. Show them some parts of your life through pictures or share a meal if you can. It can be incredibly rewarding to make this effort. Those barriers can truly be overcome, giving way to doors of understanding.

Your Biggest Block in Understanding is You

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Knowing your own direction and feelings will help you look beyond yourself when working to understand others. The ways you have found to help yourself cope with difficulties in life, for example, might be just as useful to another.

When we strive to know ourselves, we are less likely to cast the first stone toward any other. It is difficult to rid ourselves of preconceived ideas and thoughts about others, but you are the one that limits your own understanding if you keep accepting such assumptions. Keep your mind from getting in your way and learn to what you can about others, especially those with different backgrounds, values, and views.

Understand Others Through Media Experiences

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When you stay abreast of current affairs through social media, books, or television you are expanding your knowledge and will be able to better understand those in other parts of the country and worldwide. This will help whenever you are trying to bond with a new friend. We all ask those initial questions about our common and differing interests when we first meet. Try to look well beyond your own culture and develop knowledge and sensitivity that extends to all people. The more you know about the range of experience around the globe, the less tempted you may be to ever cast the first stone.


It is not enough to know that we should not cast the first stone. We must delve into why people would ever want to cast such a stone and judge another in the first place. This isn’t an easy tendency to change. We must strive actively for greater understanding of one another, genuinely trying to feel and relate to what other people go through in their lives. Taking the time to understand and address another person’s concerns is one of our biggest challenges as we walk this earth. In our view, much of life is about caring for and helping others, creating a better place for all. We can make this happen if we all work toward greater understanding.