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What’s Your Motto?

Briefing: “Harsh and Swift” was the banner that hung in our briefing room. It conveyed the attitude we had about the way we carried out justice in our part of the city. Do you know any macho man mentality cops? I do. I was one.

Dispatch (Assignment): Does your shift or platoon have a slogan or motto that you follow? Read Matthew 14:13-21. What do you think was Jesus’ motto?

On the Street: Early on in my career, there were two guys on our shift who did something that has stuck with me to this day. We used to be able to go to almost any restaurant or fast food place and eat free. I was told as a rookie that if I ever abused the generosity of the food establishments I would get “set straight” by the other officers in the division. Rumor began to grow about two guys who were going by a drive-thru burger joint twice a day, every day. That was abusive. Guys started getting upset at these two for breaking the unwritten rule of restaurant etiquette. When the truth surfaced it was even worse! They were not just going to get food for themselves but at the end of their shift they were getting a second meal to feed some of our homeless. It was bad enough that they were going twice, but now they were feeding the hooks and crooks!

It took a while for me to learn that there was room for compassion in my job. Where did I go from “Protect and Serve” to “Harsh and Swift”? Don’t get me wrong, in Romans 13:4 God’s word says, “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing”. Sometimes, we have to be harsh and swift, but Jesus also teaches us to love and be compassionate.

Jesus had a lot on His plate. His cousin and friend, John the Baptist, had been beheaded. He was attempting to get away for some quiet time. When He gets to the other side of the lake, He does not get frustrated because these people won’t leave Him alone, He has compassion on them. He wants to care for them and feed them.

Highlights from this Read: Sometimes it is possible to get away and just pray. Luke 5:16 and Mark 6:30-31 are other examples of Jesus looking for quiet places to pray.

Jesus was feeding this crowd spiritual food. The disciples want Jesus to send them away to get physical food. Jesus tells them, “They do not need to go away, you give them something to eat”. Is Jesus telling the disciples to minister to them, feed them spiritually? Just like the story of the woman at the well, Jesus told His disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”. Apparently, they still did not understand the spiritual feeding.

Investigational Resources: There are also a couple of other miraculous feedings in the Bible, in 2 Kings 4:42-44 and Exodus 16:4. This was said to be a crowd of Jews. Jesus also feeds a crowd of gentiles in Matthew 15:32-38. For different perspectives on this feeding see Mark 6:32-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-13. This is the only miracle that is recorded in all four gospels.

Officer Safety Principle: Is compassion one of the tools you have available to you at work or are you only “Harsh and Swift” all the time? We have to be ready to use either depending on the situation.

from The Gospel of Matthew 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!