Monday, January 30, 2017

Don't Summon the Jury

Several years ago, I served on the jury of a murder trial. It was complicated and difficult to call. From the start, we didn't agree on the conviction. But the one thing we did agree on was that no matter how long it took, we would come to a unanimous decision. Too much had been invested in this trial, including six weeks of our time, to allow for a mistrial. 

So we deliberated for three days until we agreed (we found him guilty on lesser manslaughter charges).

Today, I thought about that word--deliberate

It's a word "we jurors" throw around a lot. But what does it really mean?

In its verb form, it means to engage in long, careful consideration (Google).

That's exactly what we did as a jury. We took the time to carefully consider the evidence, testimonies, and circumstances until each of us had no reasonable doubt. 

I love this word, because it's also an adjective described (again by Google) as something done consciously and intentionally.

And when we do something intentionally, we do it on purpose or deliberately. We put long, careful consideration into it. 

There is usually a purpose or reason behind intentional action.

Because spontaneity is part of my personality, my "long and careful" might not be as "long as careful" as my husband's, who is more of a planner. But that doesn't mean my intentional actions are any less deliberate. 

If the Holy Spirit whispers, "Buy that person's coffee," to me at Dunkin Donuts, I might only have a few seconds to decide to intentionally bless that person or let it slip away. There's no time for long and careful consideration. Intentional and deliberate action has to be quick and without thought.

Because if I think too much, I'll summon the jury in my head, and they'll come and deliberate:

"What if they think I'm nuts?"
"So what? You'll never see them again."
"What if they say no?"
"Who would say no to free coffee?"
(And my favorite):
"What if it's not God telling me to do this?"
"Then you blessed someone anyway. You can't go wrong."

If I allow them to convene, the opportunity has just paid for their own coffee and walked out the door. 

Each day, we get to decide how we'll live: our own way or God's. Paul counseled the Galatians (and us) to live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness (Gal 5:16-The Message).

But what's in it for me?
(Ah, the ultimate selfish question!)

Let me rephrase that:

What's the purpose, the reason for living with intention? 

What happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity (Gal 5:22, The Message). 

Paul tells us in Gal 5:17 that we constantly battle our evil nature. Our natural desire is to do the things that aren't good for us, and the good things we do when we follow the Holy Spirit go against our nature. If we follow our own inclinations, we live a life of lustful desires, hatred, idolatry, jealousy, anger, complaining, envy, self-righteousness and so on (see Gal 5:19-21).

We must make a deliberate and intentional choice each day to live God's way. To starve our selfish compulsions. To decide on purpose that we will listen to the Holy Spirit's voice and not our own. 

Each morning, when we awaken, we must carefully consider the cost of following our own selfish thoughts or the blessing of following Jesus. The blessing of an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control overflowing in our basket of life.

And that abundance of fruit will naturally overflow into the baskets of others. By focusing more on Jesus and less on ourselves, we are better equipped to intentionally and deliberately see the needs of others.

So in those early morning hours, when you first rise, don't summon the jury. They'll only deliberate and keep you from being deliberate. You don't have time for long and careful consideration. 

You need only listen to One Voice to make one choice. 

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15)

Blessings Along the Path,

sharing this post with some of these lovelies

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