Your following the court case. Your opinion is set. Guilty, guilty, guilty. You can hear the gavel slam down as the verdict is given. You are not even in the court room. You don't even know all the details being read, but you know enough to form an opinion and to you, well, they couldn't look more guilty.
We read the headlines. We see the reports. We make our decisions not based on what we see, but on what we hear. Is it always the truth? There is the question. There are three sides to every story. What Becky says happened, what Angela says happened and somewhere in the middle beckons the truth.
Being a juror would be a difficult job. Most people are called to be a juror at least once in their life. The person who sits before you is awaiting the decision you make based on the information given. We don't take that job lightly. After all a person's life is in the depths of our decision making. We look at the person and try to judge if they are a good person or not. Do they speak with sincerity? Do they seem likable? Do we really pay attention to the facts or do we base our opinion too quickly?
After the verdict is read the jury is polled. We hear guilty read over and over again. In some cases the person sitting before them is not guilty at all. Based on the information given, the eye witness reports and the conclusions of the jury members the verdict is handed down, but not always accurate.
There are times we live our lives in a similar fashion. Call it the "Jury Pew", if you will. You know that pew. You look around to see who is there and who isn't. Then you begin to wonder, "Well, it's been three weeks since Gloria has been here, wonder what's up?" We don't call Gloria to find out if she is okay. We just assume. We hear other whispers as to why she isn't there. Instead of looking for the truth, we gather in the jury pew and make our decision. She must be going down the wrong road. "I knew it!" The gavel comes down.
The church doors close and the pews are filled. The preacher is speaking and a subject blares from the microphone. It's a touchy subject. One that you know, isn't affecting you, but you look around and wonder if John is here to hear the words. "Yep, he's the one the Lord is speaking loud and clear to today." The gavel comes down.
We do it all the time, folks. We hear the news. Patty was in a car crash last night. This was her second crash. Our thoughts go directly to, "Was she was drinking?" Here comes the gavel once again.
Nancy lost her job last week. Instead of us seeing how we can help her, we jump in with the thoughts, "I wonder why that girl can't hold down a job?" Here is comes. Slam!
Bessy is in the hospital again. Third time this year. She's having a hard time with her health. Ready? The gavel is set. "The Lord must be trying to get her attention. Hope she listens soon."
Yes, we take on the roll of Jury Pew and unlike the jury pool, it isn't pretty. It isn't needed and it only brings shame. There is no justice that comes from the Jury Pew. In fact, most of the verdicts that come down are guilty. Guilty without a doubt. No insanity plea here. No double jeopardy. Just guilty beyond all that we have heard. We don't even have to have the person take the stand. No witness's needed. Just enough information to make our case and there you have it. She must be guilty. Why else would people be talking?
Wasn't it the same for Jesus? Wasn't He found completely guilty without reason? We look back at that time and ponder, "How could they? How could they do that to our Jesus?" Friends, we do it to those around us all the time. We place them on the cross of guilt before they even have a chance to speak for themselves. In fact, we don't even want to hear from them. We would rather hear from those who witnessed the act, or at least those who can tell us their version of what took place.
We hear a person happen to lose their temper and they say a curse word. The first thought, the first words to that person? "Your heart is not right with the Lord?" How can we make that judgement?
"You mean, you watch that television show?" The gavel comes down and as it does you hear, "Sinner, sinner, sinner!" Just who do we think we are to judge others so quickly?
Do we forget that we too are sinners? Do we forget that grace is not just for us, but for all? Forgiveness reaches all those who ask for it. It's time we put our gavel away and maybe just step out of that jury pew and find a new place to sit. One in which we can focus on our relationship with Christ. If we want to find guilt, it shouldn't be too hard if we just look into our own heart.
Before long, this just becomes part of our lives. This feel to call others guilty. It becomes so easy on the lips of those speaking that it is soon called, "I just want to know how to pray for them". Really? Do we really need information to pray for others? No we do not. God already knows the whole story. He knows the need and how to meet it. All He needs from us is to be the vessels for prayer.
You know what we can do? We can encourage and inspire others. We can pray for those that the Lord lays upon our heart. We don't need to look at others based on what we hear, but we need to look to others with the same love that Christ sees us through. Just think what could happen if there were less jury pew and more altar encouragement? We would have revival. The Lord would send down His blessings.
I have to remind myself daily. Sometimes moment by moment. My relationship with Christ is what I need to be concerned with. I need to find what He wants me to change and what He wants to shine through me. I have no business looking at others and telling them what they need to be doing. It's not for me to calculate another person's walk. God has that under control and if we are not careful we get in His way.
What happens? We end up judging others and in turn they want nothing to do with us any longer. They become hurt and so tired of defending themselves that soon they just stay clear of it all so they can find peace in God.
Praise God at the end of my life, the only person before me is Jesus Christ. No jury pew members allowed. May I give the same grace I am given each and every day of my life. May I not assume the actions of another. May I not even utter a word not worthy for God to hear. May all the words that flow from my lips be in love.
We are all on a journey. We too are all on a different page in our walk. We are all different. We all learn different. Instead of judging another, why not simply engage in prayer. Not because we think they are doing wrong, but totally because we love them.
I have sat in that jury pew. It isnt' a pretty place to sit. I too have been on the outside of that jury pew and that is downright disheartening. There is no judgement in fellowship. When we mentor others may we do so through encouragement and example. If we could just lift one another up in love, there would be no room for the jury pew.
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others,and you will be forgiven."
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31: 8-9
"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”"