“But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 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?” (I Peter 4:15-17).
Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives (I Peter 4:12). Second, we are to rejoice in our trials (I Peter 4:13). Thirdly, Christians are to evaluate their trials (I Peter 4:15-18).
One commentator writes, “As second-century apologists, or defenders of Christianity, pointed out, the only charge on which true Christians were ever convicted was the charge of being a Christian.” This is what Peter refers to in I Peter 4:16. Peter now says in I Peter 4:17 that believers need to begin evaluating the trying circumstances they are facing. It is time for judgment to begin with the church.
The word judgment (κρίμα; krima) means to evaluate and to render a decision as to a person’s guilt or innocence. The apostle says such judgement must begin with the household (οἶκος; oikos) or sanctuary belonging to God alone. In other words, believers in particular, along with the church in general, must begin evaluating whether they are experiencing suffering because they are, or have, broken God’s law.
This is not an easy, or common, discipline for the church. More than likely the church tends to think they are being unfairly victimized. However, the apostle warns and instructs the church that a proper diagnosis of one’s ailments, spiritually speaking, will lead to a prescription for healing and a prognosis for future spiritual health.
One commentator writes, “The image of judgment beginning at God’s household is an Old Testament one (Ezekiel 9:6; cf. Jeremiah 25:18–29; Amos 3:2), as is the ominous expression, “the time has come” (Ezekiel 7:7, 12). Peter probably sees suffering also as God’s discipline, as Jewish teachers did. Throughout history, persecution has refined and strengthened the church.”
Are you evaluating the reasons for your trials? Did you do something wrong? If so, repent and ask forgiveness and prepare to face the consequences. However, if you suffer unjustly when someone else has violated God’s law, you are not permitted to also violate God’s law as payback to those who have hurt you. On the contrary, we are glorify God by obeying His commandments.
Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice, or to glorify God when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.
Soli deo Gloria!