“And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here in reverence” (1 Peter 1:17 NET).
Most of us have probably interacted with others who have exhibited some form of bias. Perhaps it was someone who benefited from his or her relationship with an important or influential person. It may have been a leader who worked to ensure that a son or daughter received a favorable position over those who were better qualified. Maybe it was someone who failed to receive justice because the guilty party had a patron in a position of authority.
These unfortunate realities are summarized by the following maxim: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” While it is often easy to see that principle at work in the various circumstances of life, our text from 1 Peter 1:17 offers a different perspective. For instance, consider this reference to “…the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work” in the passage quoted above. This portion of Scripture reminds us that God does not “grade on the curve” so to speak.
In other words, God does not adjust His view of our behavior based on what others may (or may not) be doing. Unlike those who seek to normalize a standard or behavior simply because “everyone else is doing it,” God is a completely impartial judge. On one hand, this can be a great comfort, for it tells us that God will account for every influence upon the decisions we make. This includes those extenuating circumstances that might exonerate us. We can always count on God to render an impartial and fair verdict- and those who are quietly doing His will under adverse circumstances can be assured that no detail of their service will go unnoticed.
On the other hand, those who are forgiven of their sins in Christ do not have a license to take advantage of their heavenly Father’s graciousness. Unlike an earthly father who demonstrates unwarranted favor toward a son or daughter who engages in inappropriate behaviors, 1 Peter 1:17 tells us that we should not expect a similar response from our heavenly Father.
Because we are beloved by God in Christ, we should therefore consider the impact of our choices and decisions. Just as we are fearful of hurting those whom we love, our love for God should prompt us to conduct ourselves accordingly. The prospect of facing God’s impartial judgment thus serves as a useful guardrail that helps keep us accountable and encourages us to stay on the right path.