One of the Biggest Mistakes Christians Will Make This Christmas Season
By Shawn Thomas
I Peter 4:17 says “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” Scripture says we need to live — even in this Christmas season — like people who know they are accountable to God. The “judgment” that we will face as believers is not a judgment of condemnation — Romans 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If you really know the Lord, you are saved and secure. Nothing can change that. But Peter says here that God will allow judgments to come here on earth to purify His people and help us to get serious about Him.
Peter knew His Old Testament, and he knew that in Ezekiel 9, God commanded a judgment to come upon the land — but He commanded for it to begin in HIS Temple, with HIS people — Judgment would begin with HIS PEOPLE FIRST!
Peter also knew that the Old Testament closes with the Book of Malachi, which prophesies the coming of the Lord. People may have thought, “Oh, the Lord is coming; that’s good!” But Malachi says in 3:2 “But who may abide the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire.” (That verse put to music in Handel’s “Messiah” is powerful!) You might think that if a “Day of the Lord” was coming that it would be good; but Malachi says He is coming to judge and to purify His people.
So Peter says Judgment will begin with the household of God; with HIS people — and today that means US! We need to realize that we are accountable to God and live in the light of that reality.
Years ago, the United States House of Representatives used to meet in Statuary Hall. In that Hall, there was a sculpture which Carlo Franzoni crafted in 1810, depicting Clio, the Muse of History, riding the winged Car of History, keeping notes in her book. Historian David McCullough writes that Clio was there to remind our representatives “that their words and actions would face the judgment of history …”. (Brave Companions, McCullough, p. 232)
We know that there is no Clio, “goddess of history,” but we do know that there IS a real God, who is indeed watching over us, and who is indeed recording everything that we think, say, and do and that we are accountable to Him. And He is not content for us to remain as we are. Yes, Jesus takes us as we are — but He does not LEAVE us as we are. His purpose is to purify us as His people, to cleanse sinful habits out of our lives; to make us more like Him, and to prepare us to be with Him in heaven forever.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make as Christians this Christmas season is to ignore this, and think that we are here just to “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” like the rest of the world does. That’s not God’s purpose for us. He will allow, and even cause, trials and judgments to come into our lives to cleanse and purify us as His people. And we are foolish if we just keep living our lives as if we are not accountable to Him.
Now I do believe that we can and should celebrate Christmas, and other holidays. There are numerous examples in scripture of God’s people celebrating with great feasts and presents before the Lord. That is a good thing! But just as I Thessalonians says of God’s people that “we do not GRIEVE like those who have no hope,” neither we CELEBRATE like those who have no hope either.
— Every day we enjoy in December, let’s remember that we are one day closer to enjoying the day of eternity with God in glory.
— At every party and get together, we should think of those around us who are lost, and who need our witness.
— With every dollar we spend — and it’s great to spend money on gifts and celebrations— but let’s also balance that, by giving MORE to kingdom causes which will last for eternity than we do on things that will perish with the season.
Our accountability to God should affect the way we spend our money this Christmas season. God will hold us accountable for how we have used the money He has entrusted to us to advance His kingdom. That ought to really sober some of us. God has blessed us so much — but what are we giving back? Are we even returning to Him the 10% minimum He asks as a tithe? And with all, He has blessed us with, as the richest people on earth, are we giving above and beyond that 10% to support His Kingdom work where we live, as well as to the poor, and our worldwide mission work?
Some of us might tend to look at a mission offering and say, “Man I just don’t know if I can give $77 to support a missionary for half a day!” But at the same time, many of us will think nothing about turning around and spending $77 on a Christmas tree that in 3 weeks will burn up in a flash and be gone forever!
And that’s just an example. We need to live our whole lives this Christmas season, in the light of God’s judgment; in the light of eternity. It should affect the way we spend, the way we give, the way we talk, the way we pray, the way we party, the way we spend our time, the way we treat people — the way we do everything we do. The true God is history is watching over us, and He is recording everything we do. And we are accountable to Him for it.
One of the worst things a Christian can do this Christmas season is to just run through this season without giving thought to God and eternity. His word says “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” This reminds us that even during this Christmas season — and truly, ESPECIALLY in this Christmas season — you are always accountable to Him!
Shawn Thomas has been a Southern Baptist pastor for almost 35 years, he currently serves as Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Angleton, Texas. You can read more from Pastor Thomas Here.
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