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For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in discipleship, scripture | 11 comments

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God

You may recognize the title of this blog post. It comes from this passage of Scripture: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17 ESV)

The passage is in a larger context of suffering. (Of course, most – perhaps all – of 1 Peter is about suffering, so it’s not surprising that this verse is found in a context about suffering also.)

Regardless of the context, judgment is a huge issue among the church today. What is judgment? Who judges? Who should be judged?

Of course, even when those questions are not asked (or answered), judging seems to be the sport of choice for many Christians. In general, we love to judge each other as much as we love to judge those who are not Christians. Of course, many of us have a list of favorite sins to judge as well.

And, it’s one of the passages that lists some of these “favorite sins” that caused me to start thinking about judgment. What passage? Romans 1:18-32… that dreadful passage that is often thrown against those who are “under the wrath of God” and who God has “gave them up in the lusts of their hearts.”

What kinds of sins? You know, those dreadful sins like gossip, slander, insolence, haughtiness… oh wait, that’s the wrong list. That list isn’t in Romans 1:18-32… oh… never mind. (Romans 1:29-30 ESV)

Obviously, though, we tend to love to judge those “sinners” mentioned earlier in that passage.

But, when we were discussing that passage a couple of weeks ago, we noticed something. We noticed what Paul says after Romans 1… in the part of the letter that we call Romans 2. Specifically, after listing these dreadful sins and the sinners who are under the wrath of God, Paul wrote, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Romans 2:1 ESV)

So, Paul didn’t list all of those dreadful sins so that we could point our finger at them and judge them? Well… huh. What do you know?

And, of course, this began a great discussion on the topic judgment… dealing with some of the questions that I mentioned earlier: What is judgment? Who judges? Who should be judged?

Over the next few days, I’m going to publish posts on several passages of Scripture related to judgment and judging. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help one another figure out what all this judgment stuff is about.

If you’re interested, this is a great place to share your views on judgment and judging now.


11 Comments

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  1. 3-11-2013

    can’t wait to read it. No thoughts yet. :)

  2. 3-11-2013

    I think Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best regarding judgment, and I’m paraphrasing: The level of judgment you would apply to someone else, you should actually be the level of judgment you apply to yourself, the level of judgment you want applied to yourself, you should apply to someone else.

    I understand this to mean, the leniency I want for me is really the leniency I should be giving out to the person in front of me I am judging. The strict judment I pass on another, is really the judgment I should be passing on myself.

    Its really helped me a lot to continually think about reversing the judging roles I apply, i.e. leniency for other, strictness in judgment for me.

  3. 3-11-2013

    I should probably wait for your posts but I’ve often tried to distinguish between judgement and, well, let’s say perception. To me, judgement is when I impose a ‘sentence or judgement’ as a consequence of your actions or misdeeds. I’ve judged someone when I determine what their punishment ‘should be’. I will punish them by no longer speaking to them, or by not having them in my house, or… whatever.

    It’s not judgement to perceive and understand whether someone is in sin (at least when it’s obvious). It’s judgement when I impose the consequences. Scripture has already both given us the ability to determine what some types of sin may be. If I know someone to have committed adultery, I am not judging them by confronting them or calling them to repentance (not necessarily required). In fact, it most often doesn’t require much from me except to love them. Admonishing may come into play here at this point but admonishment is not judging even though many folks are quick to call it judgement. Scripture has already given the guilty verdict and also the punishment for that sin (which comes from God) God imposes the sentence. Consequences to sin can come even apart from judgement but are not my imposition of a punishment. I may lose confidence in my spouse for instance if he/she has been unfaithful, but that is a consequence, not a judgement, even if that trust is a voluntary choice.

    Okay, sorry to jump the gun– or maybe I’m off base. Tough to detail it well in a comment section

  4. 3-11-2013

    Mmmm, this one is fraught with peril! Also with a tendency to swing to far to the extreme one way or the other, probably because we struggle to distinguish between unregenerate sinners in the world acting like unregenerate sinners versus sinful behavior within the church. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 is instructive here, especially verse 12.

  5. 3-11-2013

    I like this topic quite a bit. In terms of judging people it kind of amazes me such (people) more often than not judge… do so in such an unbiblical manner. The way they judge is: 1.) does not involve or is followed up by restoration (Gal 6:1; Jas 5:16); 2.) carries offense, condemnation, criticism… not realizing they carry either the greater sin or equal sin. I put Luke 17:1-4 in reference here; 3.) finally, they forget that loving one another is not an option, it is required (commanded) Matthew 22:37-40.

    Of course, they never observe their own short-comings and faults. Yes, being in the ministry I have seen this too often. Also, it matters not that they are cold, hard, and indifferent themselves. When judging ultimately pushes people away from Christ, it is not no longer beneficial.

  6. 3-11-2013

    A person in leadership influence once mentioned [to me] their job (firstly) is to judge righteous fruit. My bible tells me our priority (firstly) is to… love God (with all that is within us) and love one another.

  7. 3-12-2013

    Jim Wright (Crossroads Junction…not on your blogroll?) has had a lot to say on this relative to judging teachings AND the public teachings and actions of leaders. At the time he was addressing the ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ argument relative to sexual abuse and circling the wagons on the part of leaders in a big church…its the lawyer in him…and he makes a good point about our responsibility to judge in that setting. That is a far cry from having ‘roast preacher’ for Sunday dinner or trying to decide which aspects of my Christian brother’s life I need to straighten out!

  8. 3-12-2013

    Alan,

    I had just been musing about the same things last week: http://anebooks.blogspot.com/2013/03/everybody-else.html

    James

  9. 3-15-2013

    I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to respond to comments lately. Thanks for the great discussion here! I appreciate all of your input so much.

    -Alan

  10. 3-16-2013

    “Judgment begins at the house of God.” We are the house of God. Judgment begins with us. It probably needs to end with us, too, since we are most likely to find that we have much within ourselves to judge.

  11. 3-21-2013

    Becky,

    Yes, we are God’s house and God’s household – his family. And, yes, we are to judge ourselves and one another, not for perfection though.

    -Alan