Civil Service

itw1Recently, an interesting case on the news caught my eye. I didn’t know anyone related to it; I didn’t know anything about it. I just found myself reading a live daily blog of what happened in court. This was a murder case. It seemed as though everyone was speculating which way the jury would vote, even myself. When the jury reached its verdict and it was announced, I found myself astounded. I questioned if perhaps they had reached the right decision. Many in the community criticized them because they felt the evidence they saw pointed to the defendant being not guilty.

Then some thoughts came to my mind. Our country has a legal system that affords people the opportunity to be judged by an impartial jury of their peers. This system selects randomly among registered voters to find people to come hear cases. Once they show up for duty, prosecutors and defense attorneys then ask different types of questions to find people who have not had prior knowledge of the particular case or who they feel will be impartial to the alleged offender.

The responsibility

These twelve people did not ask to be given this case. They didn’t choose to be on a jury, and they certainly didn’t want to send a man to prison for life. But they had a civic responsibility to make the best decision they could given the evidence. No matter their decision, they served their community to the best of their abilities and I had no right to criticize them for doing a job that many people don’t want to do. These people who are chosen cannot have any stakes in the outcome of a trial, but by the time it is over it can sometimes affect them for life because of the weight of a decision they had to make.

There are so many jobs in our society to which this relates. Any public or civic service seems to be the first to draw criticism. There is an old saying, “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.” Those who criticize someone who is doing their best to serve others should consider how difficult that job may be.

To question, or not

itw3Occasionally there are times when we must question our system. If it is not tested, we won’t be able to find and fix any problems with it. But questioning and criticizing are completely different. By questioning, we are able to ensure our legal system is set up in a way that serves the public as a whole. Criticizing only creates negativity and doubt in our system and could lead to a lack of trust in and discontent with the system as a whole. If people do not trust the legal system, it makes it harder for our government officials to do their jobs. Police officers would lose the trust of the community, judges would be despised, it would lead to more criminals being left on the street.

Many times people are asked to take on a responsibility within an organization, church, company, or community and then are criticized because of how they perform. Often, those who are quick to criticize are among the last ones who would volunteer to do the job. Perhaps that is another reason for us to be slow to criticize others.

Someone who is making decisions based on the facts and following after the Lord may not be popular among those of the world. But as long as they are doing what is right and just, we should support and respect the decisions they make. And, without criticizing, we should accept their decision because there could be more to the situation than meets the eye.

Beyond public service

This criticism stretches far beyond public service positions. This scenario can be applied to almost any situation. A teacher who must punish a student does not do so because they want to, but if they allow that student to go about breaking the rules, then all students will think they should be allowed to break the rules too. Pretty soon, you have no rules or structure and no learning. That teacher’s responsibility is to make sure he or she creates an environment that allows all students to learn.

A parent does not discipline a child because he or she wants to. But without discipline, a child will not be able to learn right from wrong, and God’s standards of obedience. It is not an easy job to be a parent. When I was growing up, I didn’t understand why my parents disciplined me as much as they did. There are so many days now that I thank God that I had parents who cared enough about me to discipline me. And we should all thank our parents more for caring, because without that caring and teaching, we may end up on the wrong side of the courtroom with twelve jurors deciding our future––or perhaps one Judge, the Lord, deciding our fate without us ever learning to serve Him above all else.

Colossians 3:22: “Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord.”

By Sarah Ancheta

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