He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 NLT
He was the judge, but found himself judging himself.
Raymond Voet was a Michigan judge who had a long-standing policy against any types of electronic devices in his courtroom. If a phone rang, the owner lost the phone and paid a fine. Over the years, Judge Voet had given fines to attorneys, spectators, witnesses, and police officers.
Then, it happened. During closing arguments at a particular trial, a smartphone went off—but not with a ring. A voice. A voice that said, “I can’t understand you. Say something like Mom.”
Embarrassed, the judge admitted the phone belonged to him. “I’m guessing I bumped it. It started talking really loud. That’s an excuse, but I don’t take those excuses from anyone else. The courtroom is a special place in the community, and it needs more respect than that.”
When he ordered a break for the trial proceedings, he held himself in contempt and paid the standard twenty-five dollar fine he issued for anyone else who disturbed his trial.
“Judges are human,” Voet said. “They’re not above the rules. I broke the rule, and I have to live by it.”
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy; sometimes, it can be downright embarrassing as the judge experienced. That doesn’t relieve us from our responsibility.
Jesus experienced a decision of integrity harder than any I can possibly experience. His decision involved taking humanity’s sins upon himself. The pain of the cross couldn’t compare to having His Father momentarily turn His back on His Son when He became sin for us.
Doing the right thing when it’s dark—when no one looks—is more convenient than doing it in the light when everyone gazes and expects. But true integrity maintains its course in both situations.
I suppose many of the court attendees admired the judge for his decision. Whether or not anyone admires us shouldn’t matter. Pleasing God with our actions, attitudes, and words matters more.
Since we’re human, we’ll miss the integrity mark on more than one occasion, but God looks at our heart—our emotions and will and intentions. Having a heart right with God pleases Him. And God will bless us, even if we occasionally fail.
Decide to show integrity in all situations, knowing that when you fail, God is ready to forgive and restore.
Prayer: Father, help us live lives of integrity—in the dark and in the light.
Tweetable: Is your integrity still good in the dark?
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