What a tense moment when the jury spokesperson prepares to deliver the
verdict. All the evidence has been weighed, arguments put forward — the
prosecution and defence have had their last say. The judge has made his
summary. Then the words are spoken and sighs, perhaps groans, are heard
throughout the court. A head bows, tears may flow.
We have all seen a guilty man led away while bystanders rail at him.
‘May you rot in hell’ is a common call directed at a murderer.
Relatives and friends are sometimes enraged that the penalty was not greater.
There is no doubt about his guilt in their minds.
How the other half lives
We who are innocent of such crimes talk of ‘the other half’ who is
not like us. Their standards are different, they live with little respect for
the law; they are society’s underbelly. What punishment such a group
gets they fully deserve.
This popular perception of things is not all it seems to be. Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, famous Russian author who suffered in a Gulag, wrote that the
line between good and evil is not drawn down a map but runs through every
While we are so quick to recognize wrong in others, we hurry to defend any
question of wrong in ourselves. Ever noticed that? If we have been hasty in
our words, if we have actually lied, if we have cheated the boss or the tax
man, if we have held hate in our hearts for others, we have reasons to defend
What we said or did was justified in its context.
It can get worse
When relationships break down, life can be made miserable. Somewhere along the
line there have been wrong actions and attitudes. This can lead to people
doing almost unthinkable things to each other to get revenge. Adults can
offend defenceless children. They can kill the unborn and try to smother
guilt. There are so many other common misbehaviours.
The more we think about it, the more we can see the truth of the biblical
statement, ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’
(Romans 3, verse 23). None of us can claim total innocence in life.
Not so bad?
The hope of most people is that they are not as bad as many others and nothing
that they have done wrong can be all that serious. Anyone could have done the
Yes, sure, there are wide variations of guilt and culpability. But when we are
seen in the light of God’s perfect holiness, we are all seriously at
fault. Rejecting Christ and neglecting God is par for the course in our day.
This makes us guilty and without excuse.
Thank God for His amazing grace, His undeserved love. He does not delight in
condemnation but delights in forgiveness - not that His forgiveness was
obtained cheaply. God saw our sin as so serious that it cost the suffering
death of Jesus, the one and only Saviour for this world.
Reach out to God. Forgiveness is free for those who sincerely admit their part
in evil and reach out to Him in faith.