Responding to Others





Scripture

keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
(Jude 1:21 NASB)
And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
(Jude 1:22 NASB)
save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
(Jude 1:23 NASB)

 

Observation


Primarily all are to remain in the love of God. That small word, "in" becomes crucial in our understanding of the remainder of the text. This does not mean that we are around or near, but that we remain in such a centrally focused relationship with God that his love is "in" us. Therefore, everything we do in life is motivated by his love because it is "in" us. The result of having his love "in" us is that our relationship and response to others is modified by that love. There are those around us who are doubting their faith. What are we to do? We are to have mercy on them. That is, compassion and patience as they work through their doubts. There are others who are placing themselves in danger and we are to go after them -- snatching them from the fire. Finally there are those who are not just on the brink of danger, but have plunged in and allowed their entire being to be polluted by their actions. Our responses to them? We are to have mercy -- compassion, patience, love for them -- but added to it fear. The question here is how to apply the word "fear" in this sentence. There are two options. One is that I have a fear of the contaminating effects of sin which have so thoroughly polluted this individual that even their garments are covered in filth. This means that I must have love and compassion, but also set up healthy boundaries for myself so that I don't become overcome by their sin. Another interpretation is that we are to speak to them with the desire to "scare" them or to help them to become fearful of their own state or condition. This means we have to be clear in discussing the effects of sin in the life of an individual.

 

Application


No matter which strategy we are to take, we must understand that we are to have the love of God "in" us and it is this love which will take us out to a needy world which is desperately in need of a response. I have concerns about why the church does not seem to be growing in the US. It is rare when I encounter individuals who have a passion for the lost world around them. Yet, isn't this what the scripture is talking about? When we have the love of God "in" us we become passionate about the lost around us. Then, we are encouraged to be wise in our response for not everyone is in the same condition. However, the love of God will compel us to go after the lost. For some we will have mercy and pray and allow them to work through their doubts. For others, there will be times when we literally have to go after them and physically snatch them from the brink of destruction. If we love them -- we will go after them! The good shepherd left the 99 to go after the 1 lost sheep! He is our example. Our hearts should be broken over the very things that break God's heart -- and our response will come from this. Finally there will be those who have steeped themselves in the evils of this world and we must have a healthy fear of the contamination which can come from that evil. We pray, we reach out, and yet we must place barriers for our own spiritual health. Yet, in the midst of it all, we cannot avoid those who have jumped into the deep end of sin. We must respond to them as well.

My prayer is that the passion for the lost will so burn in our hearts that there will be nothing that we can do but respond -- and seek after those who have been lost. May the passion of Christ consume us so that we will not allow those who are lost to go over the brink, but that we will be passionate to snatch them from the edge and to help them find the answer -- in Christ. This is our response to others.

 

Prayer


Lord, please help me to burn with your passion for the lost. Amen.

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