A Michigan judge found himself in the news recently because of the violation of a courtroom rule—and what happened next. Judge Raymond Voet has long had a policy forbidding the use of electronic devices in the courtroom. Anyone whose phone rings aloud has it confiscated and receives a fine. Over the years, attorneys, police officers, witnesses, and spectators have broken the rule and received the punishment.
During closing arguments at the trial, someone’s smartphone started talking. “I can’t understand you. Say something like Mom,” the phone requested. It was the judge’s new phone! “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. I set the bar high, because cell phones are a distraction and there is very serious business going on,” he said. “The courtroom is a special place in the community, and it needs more respect than that.” During the next break in the trial, Judge Voet held himself in contempt, and paid the standard $25 fine that he issues anyone who disturbs a trial. “Judges are human,” Voet said. “They’re not above the rules. I broke the rule, and I have to live by it.” (Ministry 127)
It is important to set standards for those we are entrusted to lead, but we should not be exempt or elevated above those standards. In Job 27 declared he will maintain his integrity in spite of all the circumstances going on in his life. “As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” (27:1-6)
What a declaration of purpose. The world influences many Christians to lower our standards. They say things like it’s ok not to pay your debts and just let it go to collections because they’ll eventually stop calling.” Another lie the world gives is that it’s ok to lie if it’s only a “little lie” or it’s ok as long as you don’t get caught. Whatever the lie, Christians have the Holy Spirit ready to convict. Heed his pricking on your hearts door. I know I have personally had times where I have failed at heeding His leading and I have come to regret it. Let’s live today with integrity. Let our word be our bond.