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Jan 25 2010

Christians and Jury Duty

Judging the deeds of another

I read an article about whether or not Christians should participate in jury duty.  The position of the writer was that Christians should not participate in jury duty.  The author based it on several scriptures (among others):

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2

Are these scriptures really commanding us not to judge the deeds of another in a criminal proceeding?  I think not.  For instance in Matthew 7:1-2 (cited by the author of the article), scripture clarifies the meaning in the next few verses.  God is commanding us not to have a hypocritical or a self-righteous type of judgment.  Verse 3 clarifies the meaning:

  • Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Matthew 7:3 (ESV)

I am reminded of a public incident that happened many years ago.  A well-known married televangelist had  fallen into a adulterous relationship.  Another well-well known married televangelist publically denounced and condemned the relationship.  The problem was that he also was in the midst of his own adulterous relationship at the time he publically judged the first televangelist’s adulterous relationship.  In other words, he saw the speck in someone else’s eye but paid no heed to the log in his own eye.  This is a hypocritical and self-righteous type of judgment.

The Bible is full of God’s commands to judge a person’s fruits.  Matthew 18 is a good place to start.

The Lord Jesus knows trees by their roots, but we comprehend the character of trees only by their fruit.  Man, therefore, looks on the outward appearance; but God sees and knows the heart. ( W.E. Best in Regeneration and Conversion.)

We can judge matters of fruit or deeds but we better make sure our hands are clean (Matthew 7:3) before we do so.

Imagine our world if we refused to judge.  Do we not judge when we interview a babysitter or an employee?  Do we not make judgments throughout our daily lives?  Do we not judge the deeds of even our fellow Christians when they fall into sin so that we can exhort them to repent (Matthew 18)?  Do we not judge the acts our fellow citizens and condemn acts of wickedness?

I see nothing in scripture to support the prohibition of sitting on a jury and judging the criminal deeds/act  of another.

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7 comments

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  1. Margaret

    Tishrei,

    You’re right…. The writer of that article was not considering the context of the verses that were used….. That seems to be the way all sorts of wrong teachings creep into churches….. Throughout the Old Testament there are many passages where judges were appointed for the purpose of straightening out the issues people face in this sinful world….. Even in the New Testament it is pointed out that we are to judge wrong behavior in the church and wrong behavior is also to be judged by the governing system.

    Think of the outcome of a lack of judgment….. Horrors!….. There is a big difference between judging and being judgmental.

    Margaret

    1. Tishrei

      That’s it Margaret — judging fruit or deeds as opposed to being judgmental.

      I agree — YIKES if we were not to make judgments in our lives.

      I am a firm believer in reading the bible in context (well, any written material for that matter). We could take any sentence out of any written material and make it say something it does not because we remove it from the context.

  2. reverent1

    I think you make a point. I also think of other scripture wherein the world will be deceived and take the mark of the beast. If we are called to “come out of her” then the issue should be challenged more thoroughly considering that if we are at war with sin, the world and the serpent…

    Are we at war with sin, the world and the serpent ? If so how then does this post now justify itself ?
    If we step out of our comfort zones for a second or two we might realize that our flesh has more control over us then we would like to admit. Thus we are readily to go along with the unrighteous sin, world and the serpent because as stated above we allow our flesh / world to make us overlook the speck in our own eyes.

    Too much to put in a comment but I’ll state that many a theologian and follower’s of Christ discussed and debated such things long ago and I’m glad to see that this article/post exists to help get people’s thinking brains on and using it.

    1. Tishrei

      I agree, the world will take the mark of the beast. But we’re not there yet. What I do know is that God said we are to obey the law of the land in which we live unless it comes against His commandment. Let me illustrate. Let’s say that it becomes a law that a doctor is required to perform an abortion. A Christian doctor will have to disobey that law because He cannot murder just because the law states that he/she must. However, there is no commandment that we allow criminals to run free and not judge their fruit or deed. When we go to the voting poll, we do just that. We make a judgment on a person and vote accordingly. I vote against a particular candidate based on their fruit.

      As to the flesh, hopefully it has less and less control as we mature in our walk with Him. I can say that I am vastly different than when I first came to faith and if I’m around in another 20 years, I would hope that I am very different than I am today. But we will always war with our flesh as long as we are in this body and when we go home, we will be free of this earthly and corruptible flesh. In the meantime, we are being sanctified.

      Thanks for giving me something to think about :)

  3. Liz

    great topic tishrei. There is a time and season to judge. And God is the ultimate judge of our hearts. For he knows us completely.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Liz,

      Yes — He knows our hearts even better than we do. He already knows what I will be thinking this time tomorrow — I have no clue, LOL.

  4. Tonya

    Wrong twisted the GODs words again. Sad to say for Christians. We are not to judge. God can only do this not us. That is what Matthew 18 says.

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