My youngest son has started watching Judge Judy in the afternoons after school. I’m not sure why. Perhaps he is practicing to be a retired person. Perhaps he likes watching people without brain cells trying to make coherent presentations. Perhaps he likes fiesty, abusive, dismissive older women.
Judge Judy works this way: two people have a dispute that would be handed in a small claims court and agree to have their case heard and judged by Judy, who presumably used to be a real judge of some sort ( I could do some research but really, I can’t be bothered). They also agree to be bound by her ruling.
After a couple of weeks of this, we see a definite pattern involving one of three scenarios:
- Person loaned something to someone or let them let them live with them or asked for a service to be provided which was never delivered and it all turned out badly.
- Person loaned someone else their good credit rating and got stuck paying off the loan while having their own credit rating trashed.
- Someone was unfairly dismissed by someone else who was a terrible boss usually on the basis that they “didn’t like me from the start just because I took 10 cigarette breaks a day”.
On the grounds of taste and “you only live once” I’d tell him to get his butt off the sofa and do something constructive. But Judge Judy is proving to be instructive about the ways of the world and I hope he is paying attention.
These people have disputes with each other that come out of lack of discretion and lies “I said I borrowed the money to pay my rent but really I used it to go to a weekend of debauchery in Las Vegas” or greed “I wanted the truck even though I couldn’t afford it so I talked my girlfriend of 3 weeks to co-sign for it” or infantile behaviour where the employer is a tyrant and the employee is a petulant child.
So we are allowing JJ to serve as a cornucopia of object lessons about how not to live your life.
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them
If you loan anything to anyone, consider it given to them. Don’t expect they will pay you back or even to be grateful for it. Don’t say that out loud but let go of the thing you loaned. If it comes back (as it should), great. If not, then you’ve learned a lesson about discernment and wisdom in financial affairs. Loaning money among friends and family is fraught with relationship destroying behaviour and expectations. Money is a great relationship killer.
Proverbs 22:26, 27 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
or puts up security for debts;
if you lack the means to pay,
your very bed will be snatched from under you.
All you have in this world is your good name. Don’t loan it to anyone lightly. If Lloyds bank won’t give them a loan without your name on the paperwork, you are the one who is going pay it off in the end. If you wouldn’t consider giving them your kidney, don’t consider giving them your good reputation when their own won’t stand up to scrutiny. On the other hand, where people are oppressed and cheated and made vulnerable your standing in the world may just be the difference for them. Risk your reputation fighting injustice but never to help someone buy a 4×4 they can’t afford.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
When people play the tyrant as a boss, you can choose to join them in pettiness or you can choose to keep your dignity and consistently be the better person. All that pushing is to goad you into becoming like them so that eventually it is hard to tell which one is the jerk. Living in a world where people in power are childish and bullying is hard, but you lose the high ground when you decide to join them. Wait it out, choose your moment and get out for something better. Running the race to win means running it differently than those who will not stay the course and want to make sure you won’t either.
So who would have thought Judge Judy would hold up a light to painful, damaging ways of living? Hopefully, my children will never find themselves in a J J conundrum or have that look every participant in every episode has which says “how did I get here and what did I do wrong?”.
Living life well is not just about avoiding the difficulties and playing it safe. It is about a life which minimises the opportunities that invite the difficulties in the first place.