Going To Court

I have been blessed by having little to do with courts and legal action over the years. However, I have recently realised that as a Christian minister providing support to many and varied people I need to think through some of the issues relevant to legalities and court processes.

I expect that in the years ahead I will assist people facing legal cases they have been dragged into. Many of those people will be ignorant of legal process and the issues involved, just has I have been.

The thoughts outlined here are just ramblings of someone coming to terms with practical, scriptural and personal issues that might impact people who are taken to court, even by their former friends, family or others.

gavel-judge

How To Live

Christ and the Holy Scriptures instruct us to be in honour with all, live peaceably with them, agree with them, let our Yea be Yea, love our enemies, be like God who sends rain on the just and the unjust, etc.

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44,45

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” Romans 12:14

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:17,18

Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.” Matthew 5:25

Aggrieved People

From what I see in the Scriptures, when someone has an issue with me they have the problem and issue, not me. They have something to resolve internally, which may involve external events.

If they think I owe them a debt, then their concern or issue can be resolved by a simple accounting entry, to write off the debt, sell the debt, forgive the debt, turn the sale into a gift, etc.

This isn’t to say that I want to do wrong and get off without accountability, but often a perceived debt or offence is not real. The person who feels offended, cheated, taken advantage of or otherwise wronged may not have been wronged at all.

Have you noticed that in legal wrangles both parties end up deeply aggrieved with the other. The whole situation becomes adversarial, painful and offensive. Some people press claims that are not founded on reality, yet they get deeply enmeshed in all the pain and agitation of that case, despite their own error in perceiving fault where it does not exist.

When people operate out of a context of grace all the tension and wrangling which springs from the anxieties of a person with wrong thinking are dissolved and everyone is happier for it.

Bless or Win

Picking up the command of Christ that we love our enemies and bless those who curse us we see that Christians are to be a blessing and to look to help others, such as by being a resource, one who gives value to others (a creditor), or a prosperous one who is a blessing to all the families of the earth.

Most people do not see themselves as a source of blessing and do not seek the context in which they can be a blessing. Instead they are led to believe that if someone else wins, they must have lost. They do not seek win-win, but win-lose contexts, and they fear being at the losing end.

This win-lose hardness of heart attitude leads some contentions people to prefer that everyone loses rather than being the loser themselves. They cannot suffer loss, give grace, forgive the offender, or have a generous spirit toward others. In some cases people have been known to destroy something rather than allow their adversary to have it, even though it lawfully belongs to the other person.

Before Getting To Court

Before anyone gets to court there are heart issues that come to the fore. Anger, offence, resentment, unforgiveness, jealousy, hardness of heart, contempt, and similar adversarial attitudes tend to lead people to court, either to press a case or to fight with all their might against an adversary.

Consider this challenging question from the Apostle Paul writing to the Greek church in Corinth about their track record of taking one another to court.

“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” 1Corinthians 6:7

Initiating legal action means that Christians have chosen to take a hard hearted attitude toward others, rather than accepting the loss and getting on with life. Paul suggests that Christians should accept that they have been wronged by their Christian brothers, forgive and get on with life, rather than taking the matter to court.

I am not giving any advice here. I am simply raking over some things the Bible says about going to court and pressing legal cases. I am trying to think things through. Maybe you would like to add a comment to this post, with your own observations or questions.

Rejection 16 – Cut Off Source of Hurt

The fourth response to rejection which I identify in victims is their choice to cut off the source of their hurt. This is an extension of the previous lesson, where rejected people distance themselves from certain people or type of people who have contributed to their pain. This lesson looks at the broader situation where a rejected person will create distance from the process or situation where they previously suffered.

Fight or Flight

If a wild animal hurt you it is natural for you to flee. You must either fight or take flight. Running away from trouble is a logical protective process.

In the same way, people who suffer rejection, at the hands of other people, either have to fight those people or take flight. It is not easy to fight those you want to love you. And it is not possible to fight such things as school systems, family networks or the like.

So the picture I created to represent cutting off the source of hurt shows a young rejected person hurrying away from a collection of things: school, piano, sport and their aunt Sally. I will explain why I chose those items during this lesson.

I’ll Never Do That Again

As a young lad in the school yard I watched a group of boys playing cricket. Unexpectedly one of the boys asked me if I wanted to bowl the ball. I had never played cricket before and may never have seen the game before. My father thought it to be a silly game and never encouraged an interest in sport.

I took the ball and threw it toward the boy holding the bat, as I had just seen others doing.

Immediately one of the other players derided me with his scorning remark, “That’s not a bowl, it’s a chuck!” To translate that, he was saying that I had failed to propel the ball by the approved, stiff-arm, over the shoulder means, known as ‘bowling’ the ball, but had simply propelled it as a child might throw a stone, for which term the colloquial word ‘chuck’ was amply descriptive.

Realising that I had done the wrong thing and had earned unexpected and unwanted scorn from boys I did not even know, I decided that I had insufficient interest in the sport to do anything but walk away. The boys were intent on their game and someone else was found to bowl the ball in the correct cricket manner. Unnoticed, I stepped away and decided, “I’ll never do that again”.

Choices

My childish choice was motivated by a sense of offence and rejection, at the hands of those who deemed themselves qualified to scorn others. My tender, boyish spirit had been offended. I was unprepared for being placed in a position of unwanted scorn. Clearly there was much that I needed to learn to be able to engage in the process of playing cricket without risking further unwanted rebuke, and my level of fascination with the game did not draw me to navigating that level of risk.

Simply put, I was hurt by an attempt to play cricket and so I walked away from the game. I never again took interest in the sport, until my own sons induced me to join in their back-yard game. And guess which part of the process I found the most daunting. Bowling the ball is the one thing which I was most sensitive about.

That is metaphoric of the whole process of cutting off the source of our hurt. When we are offended by some process or other we instinctively choose to avoid it and the unwanted negatives that flow to us from it.

I Hate School

Consider the situation of a child who is embarrassed by a school teacher. Maybe they are asked to answer a question or read out loud, and their wrong answer or some other issue causes the teacher or students to react, snicker, rebuke or otherwise respond in an unwanted manner.

If a child feels offended by their experience at school, either in the classroom or the playground, they can decide that they will avoid it. They may announce to their parents that, “I hate school!” They may tell their mum that they want to stay home. They may cry when taken to school and plead with their parents that they want to stay home. Such reactions are common.

Parents usually assume that they have no alternative but to force their child to go. They also believe that the child dealing with their reluctance is a process of maturity. So, in the main, children who are feeling offended and hurt by school are forced to go back again and again and face their hurt and fears.

Note that many children who skip school, or who miss certain classes, may well be carrying the pain of rejection and wishing to avoid the source of some of that pain.

The Piano and Aunty Sally

Consider the situation where a child who is learning to play the piano is asked to play a piece of music for Aunt Sally, who is visiting. The child, insecure about their talents and unfamiliar with playing for an audience, displays reluctance. The mother, however, wants to show off her child’s progress so she forces little Johnny to play his piece.

Johnny is already off-side, feeling vulnerable and afraid. As he plays his piece he makes a few mistakes and Aunty Sally seems to smile, snicker, or respond in a way that feels like an offence to the boy. He springs from the piano stool and runs out of the room. As he goes he says to himself, “I’ll never let my self get into such a situation again!”

From then on, Johnny loses all heart for playing the piano. It is a source of hurt for him. If he is forced to play he does so as if under sufferance. If he can get out of it, he will. And every time Aunty Sally comes to visit he runs and hides, goes on an errand, visits a friend, or otherwise gets out of the way.

He might even hold deep resentment toward his mum, for forcing him into a situation where he could suffer pain.

In all of that he is cutting off the source of hurt.

Pruning Your Life

Each time someone cuts something off, because it is a source of hurt they wish to avoid, they end up pruning their life. Some people, therefore, have greatly limited their whole life experience.

Some people avoid any situation where they will be asked to speak in public. Others avoid situations where they will be given responsibility. Others cut off any idea of performing in public. Others avoid situations where they must use maths, sing out loud, have the spotlight (even for just a moment or two), display physical strength, compete with anyone, do an exam, and so on.

Some people have remained single after being jilted. Some have dropped out of sport, academics, business, and the like, after a public humiliation. Some people avoid church, because they were made to feel foolish or unwanted there.

What have you pruned out of your life? Imagine how wonderful life could be if you could happily and freely bring back into your experience all those things which you have pruned out of your life.

An Open Door

Your healing from rejection is an open door to new horizons, new opportunities, new experiences, new scope, and the recovery of many things you thought you could never possess in this life.

I encourage you to find the freedom which God has for you, through His love, Christ’s sacrifice and the Holy Spirit’s anointing in your life.

Rise and be healed, in the name of Jesus!