Let Judgment Begin with Me

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April 11, 2022

1 Peter 4:17-19 NIV

17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

CONSIDER THIS

There is something deeply embedded in human nature that resists the whole concept of judgment. Actually, we are pretty OK with it as long as it is directed at someone else; like the ungodly and the sinner (or the conservatives or the progressives). In the mind and heart of most people, including everyone of us, the only thing worse than someone calling you out for being wrong (i.e. judgment)—is admitting and owning you are wrong. 

For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household

Most of us will gladly say Amen to Peter’s word today, because we interpret it to mean let judgment begin with our opponents in God’s household—the ones we disagree with. We say “yes” to getting sin out of the camp. Whether we will admit it or not, most of us (even me) believe judgment is a phenomenon reserved for “the other,” or at least someone other than me—until we read Pete’s next words:

and if it begins with us

“Us” is not “them.” “Us” is “we,” and “we” is you and me. And as far as I can be concerned, “we” must begin with “me.” Here’s the point: Let judgment begin with me. Some feel I have been judgmental toward progressive Christians in this series, even to the point of equating them with false teachers. Let me be clear. When it comes to progressives or conservatives, my complaint is with the ideological frameworks as a foundation from which to engage Scripture. Are all conservatives meddlers? No. Are all progressives false teachers? No. The point today is we must let judgment begin not with someone else but with me. 

Remember, Peter heard this from Jesus in a live audience and probably a hundred other times in private:

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Translation: Let judgment begin with me. 

Let’s be clear though. Judgment is not self-condemnation. It is not self-shaming. It is humble honesty before God leading to the realignment of one’s whole life according to the truth. This is why a life anchored in the Word of God and animated by the Spirit of God are utterly essential.

All that said, in the spirit of “Let judgment begin with me,” here is the “plank” I am identifying in my own eye: I persist in framing the conversation through the ideological frameworks I eschew. Henceforth, I am done with the monikers and nomenclature of conservative and progressive (or liberal). I will not identify myself with them nor evaluate others according to them. These are worldly frameworks. They are polarizing and unhelpful. 

I am a Christian. I belong to Jesus. I trust in the veracity, the authority, and the truth of the Bible. I am a man of one book. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I aspire to be a part of the Church Jesus is building. I am a sinner, a son, and a saint. I long to become Holy Love. And if your heart is as my heart, give me your hand. 

My friend, Pierce Drake, and I have become anchor buddies in Psalm 139. I commend the whole text to us all. As we were texting it back and forth between us on Saturday, it struck me. Psalm 139 must be the most beautiful, compassionate, loving articulation of the judgment of God in all of the Bible. The Psalmist closes his prayer with this bold invitation to the gentle judgment of God. 

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn: 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are the Judge and the Judgment. In fact, you have taken the judgment on yourself. You who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. Holy Spirit, would you search me and know my heart. Would you test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way ever lasting. And all of this that I may become the holy love of God. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Are you ready to let judgment begin with you? If so, how? If not, why not? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com
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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Re progressives and conservative/traditionalists: After spending a significant amount of time reading John Wesley, I came to realize that the dichotomy within the United Methodist Chruch was the result of Christianity from a Wesleyan perspective coming unhinged: Pursuit of social justice endeavors is not a crusade separated from personal piety/holiness/salvation that first permeates all aspects of a person’s life. In fact, John Wesley never approached the poor with a social justice initiative; he started with the gospel. Regardless of whatever else he did, Wesley’s Priority #1 was always about connecting individuals to God and then to each other in a life changing relationship that then went on to impact the larger culture,

  2. J D, I’m not sure that what I’m about to say is an answer to you question, but here goes: This series has brought to the surface many of the spiritual issues that I’ve been struggling with over the last few years. I so long desire to be in close fellowship with like-minded believers who seek a more primitive and Biblical form of Christianity. I currently serve as an Adult SS facilitator in local UMC congregation. While most of the members seem to be theologically orthodox, they also seem totally unconcerned with what’s been going on elsewhere within the denomination. I’ve not officially joined this church because in clear conscience, I can’t support some of what’s going on within the connection. As you know with the launch of the GMC, many local church’s will have to make some difficult decisions. I’m faced with the decision to either stay and speak the truth in love or just leave quietly and watch this train-wreck happen. Many seem to think that things will always remain the same, that there will always be a place to come and worship when it’s convenient. I truly believe that God has called us to a higher calling than this. I perceive that I’m not alone in these feelings. Let the judgement begin with me.

  3. Your post today, especially the Matthew text, brought this scripture to mind,

    Proverbs 4:26-27
    26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
    27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

    It’s so easy to go sin spotting in others, especially those we disagree with. But doing this just as easily leads us to think ourselves as better than them, which is the sin of pride, and could cause us/me to miss a floorful of planks in our/my own eye. Maybe we should all keep a mirror handy, so that when we find ourselves doing this we can hold it up and see who we are condemning when we judge in this way.
    Judgement begins with the house of God.
    Judgment begins with me!
    You have my hand JD.

    PS. I doubt I’m quite getting it yet. But I’m listening.

  4. If you have a gay son, you search scriptures and pray a lot about what the scriptures say. When my son told me he was gay, he asked why anyone would choose to be gay? It is a difficult life to live for him and for me. And I can assure you that spiritual depravity did not “make” him gay. It is who he is, just as heterosexual is who i am. He is married to a man and they are in a covenant relationship. If homsexuality is a sin–and I don’t think it is–it is no greater sin than pride, greed, slander or gossip, etc., but so many Christians believe otherwise that they want to divide the UMC over it. No time here for a Biblical discussion, but I believe in a God of Grace and Love who loves and accepts my son. Perhaps homosexuality was not part of God’s ideal or intentional plan. That is beyond my discernment. But I believe there is a plan from God for a fulfilled life for a gay man. When we say yeah, just be celibate, we ask of him what we don’t ask of ourselves AND we look down on him.

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