Guilty, Your Honor
Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams
Was I speeding? No. Was I on my phone. Absolutely not…this time, anyway. Did I have a light out? Most likely not.
I pull over, watch the officer walk out of his car, and he asks, “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Absolutely not, officer” I defensively replied. Apparently there is a little sticker that is required on one’s vehicle when registered in Loudoun County. Who knew?
Well, my ignorance landed me a court date in the Loudoun County Courthouse. Not accustomed to the ways of the court, I arrived remarkably early, leaving plenty of time for waiting, thinking, and observing.
There were a lot of people in this small court room that had ugly red carpeting and hard wooden benches that brought me back to my pew days in the Baptist church as a kid—an experience that no doubt instilled a sense of reverence mixed with some fear.
As the Judge entered the room, all stood to show respect. He sat in his long black robe and proceeded to begin with his memorized script of the responsibilities that he possessed.
Then he called the first name. It was a DUI offense. All the details and dirty laundry were aired for all of us to hear. It felt awkward to listen to the wrongdoings of someone that I did not know. Then followed the lawyer’s response, along with an explanation of the remorse and regret of that night. The judge declared a sentence with a fine and they walked away.
Person after person was called up with the same process. Some cases made me angry because of the lack of remorse. Some cases brought tears to my eyes because of the consequences that could have resulted with a lifetime effect on these peoples’ children or the endangerment of other drivers.
Each punishment was different. It was based on first, second, or third time offenses. It was based on their admittance of wrongdoing and law-breaking. It was based on their lawyer’s defense and pleas for reconsideration. But every person was judged differently by that one man who held the power from the state of Virginia.
It got me thinking: this is how we will one day be judged. Matthew 22:1-14 tells us that there is a God who sits on the judgment seat and will ask us one day why we should be allowed into His Kingdom. He is the One who will declare us “guilty” or “not guilty” of eternal condemnation. And He knows all our faults, offensives, and wrongdoings.
It’s not our good deeds or law keeping that will get us into heaven. Romans 3:20 says that the law shows us our sin and that we are not justified by the law.
In the following verses, Paul writes that it is by the gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are made right before God. So, as believers, we can stand before the Judge with boldness and confidence that all of our shame and sin is forgotten because of our right standing in Christ.
Time passed on that afternoon in the courthouse, and when we got to the more minor traffic violations—like not having a sticker displayed on our dashboard—my name was called. I nervously pleaded “guilty.” I had to pay a fine for my ignorance and prove that I made my wrong right. Will I ever forget to get that little sticker again? Absolutely not.
Will I be forever grateful that I will stand confidently before The Judge some day? Absolutely!
Knowing that my sins put Jesus on the cross, knowing that He suffered a brutal death, and realizing there was a payment that had to be made—a payment I don’t have to make—brings me to a place of humbleness and gratitude.
It drives me to a place of striving for holiness and sanctification.
We are declared free because of Christ! No more guilt or shame to bear. We have Christ as our defense. We can walk out of that court room as free men and women, grateful and glorifying the One who paid our debt.
Live today as a free person, no debt, no guilt, no condemnation!