Lesson 1: That Excuse Won’t Excuse (Lessons from Jury Duty)


Getting-Out-Of-Jury-Duty

I believe that common and every day experiences were often what served as the springboards for Jesus’ lessons. Scripture was His textbook, life was His classroom. Over and over again we see that Jesus took advantage of “everyday life” to teach His disciples.

It is my contention that Jesus has not changed His methods, and that through the Holy Spirit, He is doing the same for us; giving us special graces in common places, lessons that He wants us learning to help us work out the grace that He is constantly working into us (Philippians 2:12-13).

As Jesus is constantly discipling us through our everyday life so that we can be learning to love Him and love others better (Matthew 22:36-40), we need to be learning to listen to Him so that we can join Him in helping others do the same (Matthew 28:19-20).

This week I am going to share some lessons I have been learning from serving on jury duty last month. This is the first if four. Ready? Here we go….

Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10, NIV).

Back in January of this year, for the first time in my life, I received an official summons to appear for jury duty in April. Honestly, I was really bummed about it. It meant missing work and driving far, far out of my way to Salem, MA. There is no easy way to get to Salem, and very little free parking. It really put a damper on my mood.

That appearance was not optional. Of course, showing up for jury duty does not mean you will get sat on a jury. You might not be needed, the lawyers might not agree to have you sit on the jury they are prosecuting, or you may be able to convince the court that you can’t or shouldn’t serve on a particular jury.

When I showed up on that fateful Monday in April, I saw one woman show up with her husband and 11 day old baby and tell the court officer that if they wanted her to sit on a jury she would be happy to, but as she was nursing she would have to have her baby and husband in court while she served. Needless to say, the court decided to put off her service by a year.

While a lot of people freely gave me advice of what to say or do to get out of serving jury duty, friends of mine who were familiar with the courts and how they worked assured me that judges have heard every excuse in the book, and that I shouldn’t expect that because I lament that it would be a financial hardship for me and my family to serve, that I would be excused. If they let that be an excuse every time they heard it, no judge wouldn’t be able to seat any one on a jury! One of my friends told me about one person who tried to get out of jury duty by telling the judge that he believed that if the police arrested a person then that person must be guilty, and therefore he could not be impartial. The judge didn’t respond the way the potential juror thought.

“Do you really believe that?” The judge asked.

“Yeah!” the guy responded.

“Well then, I’m going to grant you your wish. You won’t have to serve on the jury. But you will sit in the back of the court room for the entire length of this trial and you will see how our justice system works!”

Ouch!

Like that judge, our heavenly Father has heard every excuse in the book as to why we should be excused when He calls us to do this or that. A great example of this is God calling Moses to return to Egypt to free the nation of Israel in Exodus 3-4. Moses tried pretty hard to find an excuse that would excuse him from that job….

  • Who am I that I should be the one to go?
  • I don’t know enough about You?
  • Why would they believe me?
  • What if the people don’t listen to me?
  • I can’t speak well.
  • Please just send someone else…
  • That didn’t work too well for Moses did it! God took every excuse away and ended up sending him anyway. While saying the judge “has heard every excuse in the book,” may be hyperbole, it is quite literal with God!

Now, God is probably not going to send you to save a nation from slavery. But he might well expect you to forgive that person who hurt you so bad, or tell you to not walk out on your marriage, or call you to help a stranger you see in trouble, or to help someone you don’t particularly care for, or to do a job you don’t want to do…but that you know He wants you to do. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Trying to convince God that you are not the guy or gal to do the work that He designed you to do and calls you to do and empowers you to do is never going to fly with Him. So don’t. And if you are, stop. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

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