Hosea 12:1-14:9; Jude 1:20-25; Psalms 126:4-6; Proverbs 27:18-20
NT: “But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. Have mercy on those who waver; save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:20-25 CSB)
At the beginning of his letter, Jude challenged his readers to contend for the faith. In order to contend effectively for the faith, one must be built up in faith. How do we build ourselves up in our most holy faith? Jude described three things that we do as believers to build ourselves up. The first is to pray in the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote about praying in the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:26-27. We don’t always know how to pray, and we don’t always know what we need to pray for, but the Holy Spirit within us knows. Therefore, we pray in the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit within us to pray for what we don’t know or understand fully… and those Holy Spirit informed and inspired prayers will build us up according to the will of God. The second way to build ourselves up is to keep ourselves in the love of God. We remain in God’s love through abiding in Christ as His word abides in us… and we abide in Christ by keeping and obeying His commands. The third way we build ourselves up is by waiting expectantly for the eternal life that has been given us through the mercy of Christ. This world is not our home. We have an eternal destination beyond this world. The more we keep our eyes and our minds set on our eternal destination, the less of a hold the world will have on us and the stronger our faith will become.
What about those who have not contended for the faith… who have not built themselves up in faith… who are on the verge of being pulled into apostasy? Jude gives three responses. There are people who are beginning to waver in doubt. Jude said to have mercy on them and not condemn them for their doubt. In having mercy on them, we give our ourselves to lead them back into faith. There are people that have fallen far enough out of faith that they are in danger of being consumed by their disbelief. Those people need to be rescued, as a person in a burning building needs to be rescued from fire. Finally, there are those who, in their disbelief, have become dangerous. For those people, we show them mercy, but with caution.
In all of that, God is able to protect those who trust in Him from falling – and He is able to give them grace to stand and remain standing until the end. We must do our part in faith, and He will do His. And as we contend and build ourselves up in faith, He will protect us and keep us by grace. As we stand by grace through faith, He will receive glory.
Psalms: “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.” (Psalms 126:5-6 CSB)
Contending for the faith and building yourself up in faith through prayer and obedience to the word of God is hard and often comes with tears. Tears from people who attack you… tears from people who abandon you… tears caused by dear friends who walk away from the faith. Yet, if we continue to sow in faith, despite the tears – those seeds that we sow now in faith will reap a harvest of joy. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose faith. Continue on with the Lord, and you will receive all that He has promised.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You able to protect me from stumbling and enable me to stand in the presence of Your glory, without blemish and with great joy. Help me by Your grace, as I build myself up in most holy faith to do all that You have called and instructed me to do to stand. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.