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Litmus Test

Briefing: If one of your close friends or family members was asked to give one characteristic to describe you, what do you think they would say?

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 7:14-24.

On the Street: A litmus test is a test in which a single factor determines the outcome. Police departments do not hire people based on a single factor. Most hiring processes have several components. Some agencies require an applicant to complete a pre-employment application. This is used to determine if the applicant is qualified for the position. Once an applicant makes it to the hiring process they may take a written test, polygraph test, physical agility test, psychological examination, background check and several interviews.

As a law enforcement officer, do you ever use a litmus test to determine the outcome of an incident? If you were on patrol and you saw a speeding vehicle would you stop the driver and issue a citation without considering any other factors? Would it make a difference if they had a perfect driving record for the last 30 years? What if they were rushing to the hospital with an injured or sick child?

Most of your everyday decisions are based on several factors and considerations. This being the case, when we are asked about another person, how come we usually limit their entire character to a single word? Example: do you know John? Answer: yeah, he’s a nice guy or he’s a jerk. Have you ever done this? I have, guilty as charged.

Can anything ever be so simple? Jesus uses a litmus test in John 7:18 (NIV). He was teaching in the temple courts and told a crowd of Jews, “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth”. Would you like to be known by Jesus as a man or woman of truth? I would. Jesus makes it clear that the only requirement for being a man or woman of truth is working for the honor of God.

Paul answers the question of how do I work for the honor of the one who sent me? He writes in Colossians 3:22-24 (NIV), “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Paul addresses this to slaves but make no mistake about it, he is talking to you and me.

Can you imagine how productive you would be if you performed every aspect of your job as if you were working for God? This needs to be our perspective. We have to start working in our departments and agencies in such a manner that we are the best employees our supervisors have ever seen. Not only should we be the best, but we are called to honor God while doing it.

The next question is how do we honor the one who sent us while performing our duties? This is accomplished by living in a way that imitates the way Jesus lived. To get more familiar with how Jesus lived, read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The Bible calls this kind of living “producing good fruit”.

Investigational Resources: For more information on producing fruit, read Galatians 5:22-26, Colossians 1:10, Matthew 7:16-17, and Luke 3:8-14.

Officer Safety Principle: Using this litmus test, are you a man or woman of truth?

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!