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When the punishment doesn't fit the crime

Updated on April 4, 2013

Imagine if you had commited a crime and instead of the expected sentence, the judge offered you a lesser, different punishment. Which would you choose?

Recently a judge in the UK required a drug dealer to write a 5,000 word essay on the dangers of drugs and their effect on society. But he's not the first to hand down a strange sentence. An Ohio judge offered to reduce the $150 fine imposed on a Rap fan for playing music too loudly in his car to $35 if he spent 20 hours listening to classical music. But the fan could only stand 15 minutes before opting to pay the higher amount.

Drink driver

Judge Nettles sentenced drink-driver Cassandra who severely injured two men to eight years' imprisonment and also made her read the Old Testament and write an essay on the Book of Job. After Daniel stole $250,000 from a fund collected for crime victims, the judge ordered him to stand on a busy street in Houston, Texas every weekend for six years while holding a sign detailing his misdemeanour.

Or how about a slum landlord ordered to spend three weeks in one of his own rat and cockroach infested apartments. Or the Brazilian soccer player Emerson found guilty of insulting the referee, who was banned for six matches that would be reduced to five if he spent a morning with sick children at a Sao Paulo hospce. His fine of $2,000 was given to the hospice.

Emerson said, "You can't call this a punishment. It's more like a life lesson for us all."

But I'm innocent....?

Now we may never have committed a crime, but all of us have let God down, sinned as the Bible puts it. That sin separates us from God and in the scheme of things means that we deserve to be punished. But the strange thing to us is that rather than punish us, He sent Jesus to die in our place. Imagine an innocent person stepping forward to take the blame for the wrongs that we have done. Such love is amazing isn't it, yet we can be slow to thank God for his mercy to us and even decide not to accept the forgiveness He offers.

If we accept God's offer and believe in His son Jesus we are saved from the sentence we deserve of going to hell and are invited to spend eternity in heaven with Him.

Heaven or hell: which one will you choose?

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