On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But GO and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 19:13-13 (NIV)
At a recent community event, we read the entire book of Jude as a group of women. I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy such a feast in one sitting. His Word really is living and active and profitable and when we feed on the nourishment of the Word, it lasts and is filling!
God’s Word is full of reminders to speak in truth and love (Eph 4:15). Honestly, in this book of the Bible, Jude speaks boldly, but he also gives reminders for us to be compassionate to people. It was eye-opening for me to hear Jude’s words about grace being perverted as a license for immorality. It was clear that this time period in the passage was a challenging time for believers and unbelievers both. But I think it wasn’t much different than the time we are in now. And, to follow that bold statement, Jude says, “Be merciful to those who doubt.”
In this book, Jude calls out the people who walked in ungodliness because they doubted God, His promises, and His holiness. He calls out three groups (Israelites, angels, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah) and three individuals (Cain, Balaam, and Kora) who caused harm to the growth of God’s kingdom because of their ungodly behavior. Each of these groups and characters from the Bible had moments where they doubted God’s plan and went their own way. These groups polluted their own body, rejected authority, and abused others. These actions grieved God. Jude doesn’t say, “Don’t associate with such people.” But, he does say to be merciful to those who doubt, to save others by snatching them from the fire, and to show mercy mixed with fear (of the Lord). Jude cautions them to remember God’s promises and to do His work.
In the last part of the book, Jude gives God’s holy people a call to action. He says you have to build yourself up in the most holy faith, pray like crazy, and keep yourselves in God’s love! How do we do these things? We have to abide with God and know Him well. We have the gift of reading His Word--but we have to read it, review it, and write it on our hearts. He reminds us to pray. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath (Psalm 116:2)! Each of these exhortations are practical pieces of advice for all of us and clear action steps we can walk in daily.
Jude encourages us to keep contending for the faith in difficult times. As we continue to look at speaking truth in love, we know Jude’s brother, Jesus, had many examples for us to follow. Specifically, Jude’s words reminded me of the section of Matthew 9, where Jesus was approached by the Pharisees. The Pharisees were questioning Jesus for sitting at the table with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees were misdirected in their judgement of Him because He was associating with people who society deemed unacceptable. The Pharisees too were sinners because they were still trying to legalistically live the letter of the law but were missing the spirit of the law. They were questioning that, by sitting at the table with the 'sinners', Jesus was agreeing with those people. In fact, Jesus was not agreeing with their actions; He was agreeing in love for them.
Jesus is our example of love. Always. There is no one like Him. We have a responsibility to “Arise & GO and learn” while we sit at the table among those that are different. It may look questionable to some, but our Father delights in us when we look like Him.
Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance,
Women’s Ministry Director
Burke Community Church