A Christian’s Lessons from a Day of Jury Duty
This week I was called in for jury duty. It was my first experience being called in so I was a little nervous and someone excited. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Excited for jury duty!?” But why not? I mean how often do you receive a “Get Out of Work Free” pass all the while getting paid a whopping $17.84!
Here were a few of my thoughts from this experience:
Jesus said, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” I thought about this scripture a few times as I waited in the jury room wondering if I would make the jury selection. I don’t know about you, but I’m not keen on judging other people to determine their innocence or guilt in a court of law. So I asked a couple potential jurors what they thought about the responsibility of judging another and one man honestly responded, “We do it every day.” And isn’t it true? How often do we make quick judgments by what a person wears, how they look or even the color of their skin. I’m so glad that God does not judge by outward appearance, but looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
I was brought into the courtroom with other potential jurors to go through a process called “Voir Dire” (French for “To see to say”). This is an opportunity for the lawyers of both sides to ask questions of potential jurors in order to decide who will be selected as the 12 jurors and also two standbys. One of the questions asked of us was, “Would you be more likely to believe the testimony of a police officer because of their position?” I raised my hand in the affirmative. On the basis of that question and my answer, I was excused from being on the jury.
My thoughts were that a police office should be obligated to tell the truth and my hope would be that he or she would do just that. But in a court of law, everyone is to be given equal credence to start so there is no impartiality in one’s judgement. I contemplated my response for some time and even spoke to my sister Paula and friend Matt who are both lawyers. While my earnest hope would be that a police officer would tell the truth under oath, I realize his humanity makes him just as vulnerable to lying as anyone else, “let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4)
During the jury selection, I spent some time praying for the defendant, a young man accused of assault. The court room had a very cold and threatening feel to it. I could only imagine what it felt like for him. The judge grabbed the attention of the entire courtroom and even his slightest attempt at humor brought about a nervous giggle from a room of grown adults. It made me also consider that great day of judgement we will all one day face. I thought to myself, “If there is such fear in standing before men, how ought we to fear the living God who sees all things?!”
After my brief appearance in court, I am now free from serving jury duty for another 3 years. But I can’t help but think that every day, people around the world are sitting in the same seat of that young man waiting for their verdict. And each day, there are men and woman who will leave this world to stand before God’s great throne. (Hebrews 9:27)
I know that before a holy God, I will one day stand guilty as charged, but I’m so glad that I have a friend in Jesus – my advocate, my defense, my refuge and my Savior – the One who has paid my penalty in full! Thank you Jesus! Amen.