Fear the Father?

1 Peter 1:17   (KJV)   17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

We boldly call God our Father. It’s to Him we pray. He’s the One Who answers our prayers and blesses us graciously; He’s also the One who judges and will judge all of us 1 Peter 1.17 - Fear the Fatheraccording to our works. The appropriate response to these as pilgrims on a sacred journey is to live in fear of God.

We often connect fear to the LORD being our God who judges and condemns, and we connect love to Him being our Father who provides, guides, and saves. But this passage doesn’t show that distinction; the Father is the judge we need to fear.

We have a heavenly Father we can always call on and count on–anytime, anywhere. He’s a perfectly fair Dad. And since He will judge or reward us according to our works, it’s only appropriate that we do what’s good, right, and godly. We’ll always be aware of His incomprehensible greatness and awesomeness so there’ll never be a point in time when we’ll act like little spoiled kids treating our Dad with contempt. No; He’s too mighty, majestic, magnificent, and marvelous for that.

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Quick Judgment

Romans 2:1   (KJV)   1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Often, people are guilty of the same things they judge others for. And since this is true, there really is no room and reason for hypocritical judgmental attitudes and actions.

It’s very easy for some of us to call others out on their mistakes or wrongdoings. We can be very good at making others feel guilty. We make sure of it. Somehow, it makes some of us feel more superior – that we’re better people. And we want that picture we portray seen well. Really? Perhaps the only advantage we have is that we found out about their faults and we were better in hiding ours. Some of us act so smug and untouchable. We want to create this separation between us and “the sinner.”

Interestingly, we are selective in this. We can be blind to the wrongs of the people we like; but we can be brutal to others we don’t like. The truth is, the knowledge of the sins of people we’re not really so enamored with just gives us the ace we need so we can treat them with disgusting cruelty and make everyone see that we’re justified in doing so. Give me a break. Any sin we know about anyone – people we like or people we don’t necessarily like is infinitesimal compared to all the sins we ourselves are guilty of – which we know, if we’ll only be honest to ourselves.

God wants us to be alleviated from the burden of pretense. No one’s perfect – not others, not us. We will sin. Let’s not excuse each other, but let’s accept each other’s reality. Then let’s help each other work out our salvation better and more seriously without the weight of condemnation hanging around our heads.

Dear God, the only perfectly holy Being in existence, thank You for the grace You’ve given us to be humble. Because of You, we can change. You’re working in us so that we will have a change of mind and attitude regarding others. You want us to be more gracious in dealing with people caught in their sins and to be honest regarding our own. You’ve shown us our true nature so that we won’t ever act arrogantly and proudly. We all have the dreaded “skeletons in our closet.” That’s why we desperately need a Savior. We realize that any holiness we enjoy and any victory we have is all because of You, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Discipline: Of Saints and Sinners

1 Corinthians 5:12  (KJV)   12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

Should we judge non-Christians? That’s a rhetorical question. It’s a given: we’re not tasked or entitled to judge unbelievers. But we are definitely responsible for rebuking and correcting believers. This has to do with judgment and not about sharing the Gospel. That one calls for a totally opposite response. We share the Gospel to unbelievers, not necessarily to believers.

If we’re among those who have not surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus, we won’t subscribe to the same commands, precepts, statutes, teachings, and principles that the Lord holds His people accountable to. We will live according to what we see as right in our eyes. We will make our own rules and laws; define what’s right and wrong based on our personal opinions and/or feelings, governmental mandates and/or positions. Each one will have different standards because every person is different. We will do ungodly things and will not see anything wrong with them. In fact, we may promote our ungodliness with the most intense activism because we believe we’re right.

On the other hand, if we’re believers, we ought to expect to live under a totally different set of standards. We have the Scriptures as our authoritative source for belief and life. We willingly submitted ourselves to the Lordship of our dear Savior Jesus and to His Words – His commands. We can and ought to definitely call each other to it if we ever sway from them, either in our doctrine or in our ways. Why? Because we have a standard we expect each other to abide by. This is something we can’t expect from those who don’t subscribe to the same faith as we do. If I am a sinner, I will sin. That’s my nature. If I’m an unbeliever, I won’t believe Jesus or His Word. I won’t live according to it. That’s expected. But if I say I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus, I ought to follow Him. That’s expected of me and all His followers. And if we don’t follow, we really ought to have the courage to confront and rebuke each other. And if necessary, even to lovingly discipline those under our authority.

Dear God, our great and righteous Judge, You have given us Your Words that we may know what to believe and how to live. Your Words and ways are perfect; they’re wise; they’re the Truth. Please help us to live according to Your precepts, to be willing to be corrected when we’re wrong, and to be bold in lovingly correcting those who err, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Clear Conscience?

1 Corinthians 4:4  (KJV)   For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord

Ignorance doesn’t mean innocence. Absence of knowledge doesn’t mean absence of guilt. Conscience is a good judge, but it isn’t the ultimate judge. People aren’t always aware of everything they do right or everything they do wrong. God is still the One Who knows everything; He is the ultimate Judge.

We can be wrong – even in judging ourselves. Naturally, we want to perceive ourselves almost always in a better light. The more so in the way we want to portray ourselves to others. We always want to display the best picture of ourselves. That’s perfectly understandable. Even many of those who make faces – I mean ugly faces on their photos often do it to cover up what they perceive as unattractive about themselves. So when it comes to self-evaluation or self assessment, we really ought to not have any room for pride. I’m not being cruel or self-esteem suicidal here; I’m just being realistic. Yes, we ought to always try our best to make the most truthful assessment of who we are. But after all that, we still fall short. We don’t really know ourselves as much as we ought to. Given, if we’re honest enough, we know ourselves more than any other human being. But God will always know us better. What He sees is definitely different and more detailed than what we see. Remember: He knows the very numbers of our hairs. Let’s not even try start counting. Let’s just humbly admit: He knows best; He alone can judge totally fairly.

Our dear God – the only true just and faithful Judge, we humbly submit ourselves to You. Please help us to get rid of our pride, to learn humility and to always live it. Help us to accept the truth that we don’t really know ourselves as much as You do, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Firsthand Info

Acts 25:22  (KJV)   22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

The visiting King Agrippa was informed by the then Governor Festus about the Apostle Paul and the situation at hand. The king didn’t carelessly jump into conclusion; he didn’t rashly give any opinion; he didn’t impulsively give Festus any advice; he wisely requested to hear Paul firsthand. Festus granted his request but not until the next day. There was no argument on the king’s part. He didn’t push for an immediate audience. He agreed to wait.

Much of the hurtful misunderstandings, destructive fights, wrong decisions and unfair judgments that have created so much chaos and havoc in relationships, both in familial and international scale, has been caused by unwillingness to check out things firsthand.  We  don’t process info properly. We hear something and we get affected. Now, that’s natural; what we hear will usually affect us. But it doesn’t mean we need to believe it and act on it immediately. Especially in dealing with really important or critical matters, we ought to make sure that we have all the info we can get to make a wise and fair judgment before jumping into any conclusion. Of course there are times when we don’t have the luxury of time to patiently gather all pertinent data. In most emergency scenarios, we need to make wise use of whatever facts readily available and act on them quickly. But if we have time, by all means: ask, listen, do research; we need to employ the valuable virtue of patience. It will lead us to right beliefs, right decisions, and right actions. And, it will spare us from many heartaches and headaches.

Dear God of truth and justice, please give us a heart that really pursues truth. Often, our judgments our clouded by our preferences. When a situation or an information favors our preference, we get overjoyed and under-informed. And with our unformed and incomplete basis, we march confidently forward only to find ourselves in very embarrassing position. Please remind us always that truth is our friend. Truth only threatens errors and lies. The more we find genuine materials that lead to further discoveries – the better. They may bring us closer to affirming truth we already believe in or to finding the truth that will save us from errors we may have held on to. Help us to have an attitude that is welcoming and approving of them. There are those who are in stark contrast with what we believe in. Help us to really love them and be friends to them. Many of them are on the same quest as we are. Although coming from different directions, we share the passion for the real deal: truth. – in Jesus’ Name, amen.