I had the opportunity this year to teach a couple of Grade 10 classes the Inductive Study Method – it was a compliment to what their teacher (amazing woman!) was already teaching them. And after wrestling with what text to use, I settled on Jude. Now I chose Jude for a couple of reasons. (1) It’s often overlooked, and it’s short. (2) I wanted the students to feel, at the completion of our time together, like they had tackled something and had a solid understanding of what Jude was saying. (They had a pretty cool final assignment of writing a letter for our context today. I will see if I can find one and post it here later.)
Together we concluded that Jude deeply loved his friends and was concerned about them. He was concerned because there were “certain people” who had crept in unnoticed among them (the Beloved), and these “certain people” were a threat to the faith of Jude’s friends. Why? Because they denied that Jesus was Lord; they perverted the grace of God; they seduced Christ-followers to go astray (Balaam’s error); they were self-centered, grumblers and faultfinders; and they flattered others for selfish gain (vs. 4-16). In short: these people were trouble!
So what were Jude’s suggestions? Well, he said a few things:
- Beware of who you surround yourself with! That’s what it means to show mercy mixed with fear (vs. 17, 23).
- Keep building yourself up by praying in the Holy Spirit (vs. 20).
- Keep yourself in God’s love as you wait for God’s mercy (vs. 21).
- Be merciful to those among you who are wavering. Continue to contend for the faith and don’t be afraid to witness to those who are on a path to destruction. (vs. 3, 22, 23)
- Know what is the Scriptures say and remember what the Lord Jesus Christ foretold (vs. 17). How do you know these things? By engaging in God’s Word.
- Trust GOD to keep you from stumbling (remember you have to do your part, too) and in His love to both bring you to eternal life and to make you stand “without blemish in the presence of his glory” (vs. 22, 24).
It seems that Jude’s friends were beginning to forget who they were and were allowing themselves to be influenced by faith-wrecking, soul-wrecking people. And Jude’s passionate plea to contend for the faith, to keep growing and being built up in the faith, and to look out for the Beloved still stands today.
So as a point of reflection or application today here are a couple of questions we can ask ourselves: Am I building myself up in my most holy faith? Is there someone who’s wavering who needs to be shown mercy? Are there people in my life that have crept in unnoticed and who I need to steer clear of? What are the ways I am contending for the faith? Where is my faith in God and His promises at?
Prayer: Oh Lord God, help us to hear and apply Jude’s words in our context today. Help us to be faithful stewards of the gospel message, and help us to become women and men who make wise choices with respect to where we will spend our time and energy. Help us to trust you more fully. Amen.