JURY DUTY

Well, I was going to write about being double minded, but I am having trouble keeping other thoughts out of my mind. It is not a new problem as I am very undisciplined and rather like being that way.

I have been called for jury duty and it brings mixed thoughts to my mind. Perhaps that is why I have been thinking about being double minded.

Most everyone hates to be called to jury duty. Where I live it is a two week ordeal and it could be much longer if one has to serve on a high profile case.

Personally I do not want to give two weeks of my life to trying to determine if someone is guilty of a crime. That is a selfish and self-centered attitude and I am quite aware of it, but it is also true of me, and to try to hide it would be somewhat less than honest. So to be fair I have included my weakness.

I also considered just not showing up. I could get away with it as no shows (in my area) are not punished in any way, but 1 Peter 2:13&14 (NIV) says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” And it is the authorities that requested that I serve.

I also hear (in my mind) “whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much” and I think ‘If I cannot be trusted to do God’s will in such a small thing, should God trust me with big things’?

Everyone, including me, is guilty of some crime. Maybe not the crime that the legal system has chosen to haul the accused before a court of law, but still guilty of crime and it might be a greater crime than the one specified by the court against the accused, so at first thought it seems as though it should not bother me if I think someone guilty of a sin and declare so as a juror.

Well, it does bother me. That is what Satan does. He stands before God and declares me guilty of sins: and I am guilty. If it is wrong, and it is, to stand before God and reveal the sins of someone else, then is it right for me to stand before men and declare that someone else is guilty of a sin?

I am quite sure that you are having the same thoughts as I am and that is if everyone thought the same as I, then all of the guilty would go free, and if all of the guilty were freed then no one would be safe.

Think about it: everyone, that is free, is guilty of sin, and no one really is safe in this world.

Then there is the second thing that bothers me. As a juror I am supposed to find the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Because I was not there at the time the crime was committed there is always some doubt as to whether or not the person is guilty. How far does one go before they can declare doubt reasonable or not reasonable?

I spent much of my life repairing something that has failed in some way. Many times I have been sure, in my mind that a certain part or adjustment would repair the unit and solve the problem, but it did not.

I have been blessed in that if I was wrong, no one died, and no one’s life was ruined by my mistake. I got a second chance to repair the item and along with it I learned a bit more about my profession. By the way, just encase you are wondering, I did not charge anyone for my mistakes: I counted them as money spent for education. Just saying.

I don’t think that I can serve on a jury and obey the second royal law, which is do to others as I would want them to do to me.

Even if I were guilty of the sin that I was accused of, I would not want to receive the punishment that I deserved. How could I sentence someone else to receive their just punishment, when I would not want the same to happen to me, and still obey the second royal law?

I am supposed to be as much like Jesus as I can be. Jesus does not stand before our Father and declare anyone guilty of sin; even though all four, Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the accused know the truth of the matter. Knowing this, could I?

I have determined to report for service, but I am quite sure when I state that I cannot vote someone guilty, even if I think they are, I will not serve.

I doubt if you can change my mind as this is not a snap decision, but you are welcome to try.

8 Responses to JURY DUTY

  1. Perhaps you could spend sometime with those that are in lifestyles that are criminal, whether in jail or outside. You would likely find that jail, consequences, etc, are quite often used of the Lord, just as He uses consequences for you to discipline you. Whether they are received or not is the individual’s responsibility.

    Jesus doesn’t give us a free pass. The consequences of sin are to be paid, and were, hence why He can forgive them. Some consequences remain, as He sees fit I believe, and the legal system is often used in this. “for if you commit wrong, he [the authority] bears the sword for a reason” As a juror, you are part of this authority-system, with the responsibility to be judge wisely the offense.

    Just a thought. I enjoy your blog.

  2. astudent says:

    John Bencheck,

    I worked in a number of motorcycle shops for quite some time and I know much about lifestyles. I also know that prison can and I think usually does deepen the resolve of the one incarcerated. They sometimes go to jail relatively innocent and come out with more evil plans.

    Not always, but jail is no magic wand. It does cause one to think and those who tend to be the type to turn to the Lord are some times helped by the experience, so I do agree that it can help: just not always.

    I do agree with you when you say, “Whether they are received or not is the individual’s responsibility.” I believe that is the basis of all of the sin that we see today, or rather all sin. It must be the individual’s responsibility: God will not force anyone to accept Him, so sin results.

    I do not agree with you when you say Jesus does not give us a free pass. He paid the price for my sins, but I certainly did receive a free pass. I did nothing more than ask to be saved and believe that He would do as He said and so I am saved and I do not have to pay for my sins: I could not anyway.

    I might agree that I am part of the authority-system, but that does not mean that I have to do something that I see as wrong. I must vote my conscious and it tells me not to condemn.

    God knows who is guilty and God will punish them. God did not appoint me a juror, man did. They just didn’t get what they wanted.

    Think about the servant in Matthew 18:23-35. It is money that is used to illustrate the lesson, but doesn’t it fit me if I do not forgive?

    It is true that the defendant has done nothing to me, but the fellow servant, that owed the first servant, also did nothing to him: it was not the servant’s money that the fellow servant owed as it all belonged to the master.

    I pay careful attention to verse 34 & 35.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Though I seem to disagree, the truth is I believe we both are right. We are just looking at the situation from different view points.

    If I am correct you are viewing crime and punishment from a worldly point of view and I am viewing it from a spiritual point.

    Most stop thinking about sin when they see it as wrong and therefore the guilty should be punished. I didn’t so my comments seem alien and wrong, but most of my comments seem that way.

    Don’t they?

    Just as an after thought. I do not consider sending someone to jail a fitting punishment. Spare the rod and spoil the child. A beating for sin would get the attention of one who is guilty much better than time wasted in jail.

  3. While God forgives sin, and is it a free pass to us, it is not free, was my point. Every sin costs something, God is just and thus every penalty must be paid. Christ paid for our sins in His suffering, thus I say we got no “free pass”; it was a costly ticket bought for us.

    I suppose I think you are drawing an analogy too tightly between sin and crime. While God forgives sin, discipline must remain, consequences must remain, and society must continue to function. It is perhaps too idyllic to envision a society where punishment is not necessary as everyone forgives each other, and thus there must be punishment. As a part of that society, I simply wonder if your role is to show justice, not by determining the punishment but in determining if the crime was in fact committed. This itself is not necessarily condemnation, as in many instances when men are given rehabilitative sentences verses penal (perhaps too many instances, in my opinion).

    In the instance where an offense was committed against you yourself, then perhaps the discussion of sin and forgiveness, and the parable cited, would have more bearing. To not press charges and lay down the need for justice served is hard to do, but to require by your own leniency someone else to do it isn’t forgiveness, it’s injustice.

  4. astudent says:

    John Bencheck,

    Please forgive me for being so late to answer. In the jury poll I had access to the web as I waited to be called for duty, but there were two many distractions for me and I could not concentrate.

    I like absolute truth as truth cannot be truth unless it is absolute. You said, “Jesus doesn’t give “us” a free pass.” Then you went on to explain that Jesus paid for our sin. I would say that he paid for all of our sins and no consequences remain. Our salvation did indeed cost God, but I still say that “we” got a free pass.

    Perhaps I should not say what I am about to say, because there are some, not many, who know who astudent is and might be able to determine who I am referring to. However, in order to better explain my beliefs I am going to take that chance.

    I have been personally involved in an instance where I was given the opportunity to forgive someone of the penalty for a crime.

    A very good friend of mine succumbed to temptation and embezzled money from the company that we operated. I don’t really know how much, and I do not want to know, but it was enough that the company never fully recovered from it.

    When I began to suspect it, I did not set any traps or confront him. I just waited until he sprung the trap that he had set for himself. That was not easy, as it gave time to embezzle more. However, I had to be 100% sure before I accused him, as he was a good friend. Well, the truth is I would have to be 100% sure before I accuse anyone of anything and that is one of the reasons that I cannot serve on a jury.

    When he sprung his trap I wrestled with the same problem that we are discussing. Part of me did not want to prosecute my friend and another part would say that if I did not prosecute then he would learn nothing and would continue to sin (somewhere else, as I would stop it at the business). Then there is the self pity when I ask myself how he could have betrayed my trust.

    Then, that little voice in my head that sounds just like my own voice, though I know it is not said, “What about his children”.

    Now this man had more than one child and they were all great kids. He also had a sweet, Christian wife. If he had to go to jail for his crime, and it was great enough that he would have to, then he would have lost his house and his children would have to put up with the disgrace that goes along with having a jail-bird for a father. They all looked up to him as a hero and they loved him dearly.

    I had to ask myself ‘Can I do this to his family?’ and the answer was no. absolutely not. They did nothing, but they would also have to suffer the consequences of his crime as well.

    I have done many things in this life that I regret, but I have never regretted forgiving that offense against me and not bringing that man to justice. Well, actually it was an offense against God and not against me.

    By the way, that man is still my friend and I would do almost anything for him. Sense then he has been baptized into the Lord and all of his family are Christians.

    I am not trying to take credit for what the Lord has done. I am just saying that because I believe, as the Bible says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” that it can be demonstrated in this life, as well as the next.

    By the way, the prosecutor that interviewed the prospective jurors ask if anyone had a religious issue that would affect their decision and when I answered she did not chastises me, but thanked me for my honesty. I am not the first, or the only religious nut, that believes it is wrong to judge someone.

  5. I certainly don’t think you’re a nut.

    I’d just note to forgive someone of an offense against yourself requires you to access Christ in a way that you have such strength to do so. Thus, it must remain of your own will. If you were forced into forgiveness, perhaps without access to Christ’s grace, then it would not be forgiveness.

    That, then, is why I think forgiveness ought to lie in the hands of the victim, not the justice system itself.

  6. astudent says:

    John Bencheck,

    I called myself a nut, because I do not take myself very seriously. I write about what I think God is saying to me and it might seem that I have no sense of humor, but just the opposite is true. I believe that many that read what I write; think that I am a nut and I think that it is funny, so I agree with them.

    Well, sometimes I even agree with the impression!

    I am a stickler for absolutes and I am sure that it is madding to exchange comments with me. I do not mean to say that you are wrong. I am just thinking about worldly justice from a spiritual point of view.

    I do agree that forgiveness should lie in the hands of the victim. All sins are committed against God, so He is the victim of all crime, and judgment is His.

    The man that stole from me (I owned 51% of the business, he owned 49%) really stole from God, as God owns 100% of everything. Well, actually he only diverted the wealth from my hands to his, as God still owned it.

    If someone slays another, they didn’t actually take their life as no one dies: everyone will spend eternity in either Hell or Heaven: life is a permanent gift. However, they interfered in God’s plan and He was the real victim.

    There is a parable in Matthew chapter 18, about a servant that owed his master more than he could possibly pay. When he was forgiven, he had a fellow servant thrown in prison. When I was called to jury duty, I thought about that parable.

    I had committed many sins, worthy of death, against my Master and He has forgiven me of all of them. How could I be like the servant that was forgiven and have my fellow servant thrown in prison? Especially when I know, the true victim is God and He has declared that He will punish the guilty; when He decides, it is time. Also, He is one of the witnesses required to affirm the guilt of the defendant: the defendant is the other witness: a witness against himself.

    By the way, in the parable, it seems to me that the second servant really owed the debt to the first servant’s master. I would wager that the money that the second servant owed to the first came from the first servant’s master.

    I have been thinking about this question of determining the guilt of someone else, quite a bit, and I have always reached the same conclusion.

    I am supposed to walk as Jesus did. Though Jesus had all power and could even control the weather and raise the dead, he did not stop anyone from sinning.

    Well, except the money changers. Actually, he only drove them out of the Temple, so he did not stop them and when they came back, he did it again.

    We certainly agree about free will. God does not make anyone do anything. We are free to sin, or not to sin. God doesn’t interfere in our decisions. As you said ‘ If you are forced into forgiveness, then it would not be forgiveness’.

    Because God does not force us to do what is right, we have much sin in this world. One could argue that if the guilty were not incarcerated they would be free to commit more crime. I could not disagree with that, but because I was not a witness of the crime, I must leave the question of guilt to someone that believes they are correct in their judgment, or was an actual witness to the crime. Personally, I have been wrong about what I was sure of, in my own mind that was correct many times and therefore, I could never convict anyone beyond a reasonable doubt. My doubt is in my own ability to judge. It seems to me that only God can judge. Not only is He a witness, but He even knows the thoughts of the accused at the time of the crime!

    After all of the searching for the proper action in this case I think that I hear that small voice, that seems to come from my own mind, saying, (Luke 9:60 NIV) Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

    There are plenty of people in this world that believe they can determine the guilt of someone, so I am going to let them take care of their own dead and I am going to proclaim the kingdom of God.

    I think that your view is logical from man’s point of view, but faith is proved faith, when it is not logical and yet is aligned with the Word of God. Everyone in Scripture that was commended for their faith, did what God wanted; when faced with man’s logic or God’s advice.

    I have found that what seems like disagreements with other Christians are really only viewing the subject of the disagreements from a different angle. Both views are correct when viewed only from the spot where the observer stands and both should be considered and then a better understanding can be obtained. Or, more correctly said, God can lead us to a better understanding. So please do not think that I am saying that I understand more than you do and therefore you are wrong. Actually, I need other points of view, so that I can use them to reach that better understanding, so I appreciate your comments. It really doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong, as long as we can learn from it.

  7. Tonya says:

    I agree with you. I am worried but, I hope my truth will get me out. I can not throw stones at someone. GOD is the only one who knows. I have been threw things. I don’t want to relapse. My reg doc thinks I will ge t over this but, I wouldn’t. Now might have to see a thearapist again.

  8. astudent says:

    Tonya,

    Don’t worry. Everything changes with time.

    I have been thinking too much about myself lately. That leads to depression, because I know how I am. Thank God that I have a Savior and the more I think about Jesus and God the less time I have to think about myself.

    A wise man once told me that if I was becoming depressed I should find someone to help. I think that is good advice.

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