As you may know, Jude the Epistle, was written by Jude, brother of James and Jesus (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3. “Judas” is the same as “Jude” in Jude 1). I have written and spoken from the passage below many times, but every time I revisit, something new pops up. Take a peek:
Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Looking again at these verses, the word mercy stands out for the first time. Therefore, I want to share about two things I’ve learned about mercy in the book of Jude. First let’s define it:
What is Mercy?
According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of biblical Theology, “the chief Hebrew term is hesed [d,s,j], God’s covenant “lovingkindness.” In both the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the LXX) and the New Testament, the term behind “mercy” is most often eleos [e[leo”] in one form or another, but oiktirmos/oiktiro [oijktirmov”/oijkteivrw] (compassion, pity, to show mercy) and splanchna/splagchnizomai [splagcNIVzomai] (to show mercy, to feel sympathy for) also play roles.
Mercy is both Vertical and Horizontal.
Mercy is mentioned over and over in the entire Bible, but here in Jude it is mentioned about four times. Two of which is in reference to the vertical aspect of it. Check out the following references:
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
We ought to daily praise God, our Father , for in his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If you really want to know how merciful God is toward you – look to Calvary and you will see his mercy on full display.
Jude says this mercy is multiplied unto us. In other words, God has opened the flood gates of heaven and literally poured out his mercy upon us. We get to experience his mercy here on this side of eternity. But wait, there is more! This multiplied mercy leads to eternal life, the full experience to come.
The cool thing about this is, we didn’t deserve any of his mercy.
We were vessels of his wrath. But in his love, compassion, and 'great mercy' he save us, bestowed upon us unmerited favor and made us vessels of his mercy.
Here are the other two references mentioned here in the book of Jude. This time it is in reference to the horizontal aspect of mercy. Check out the following references
And have mercy on those who doubt;
Save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
In view of God’s mercy towards us, we must channel that same mercy to everyone around us – especially to those who oppose us. Jude names specific people we ought to show mercy to:
- False teachers – The people who pervert the grace of our Lord; the scoffers who pervert the gospel of our Lord. These are often within the walls of the church.
- Doubters – Are those who do not believe at all. Those who believe differently than we do. And those who believe in everything.
- Immoral – Those we are quick to condemn by telling them, “you will not inherit the kingdom of God. The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers. “
- Others – White collar, blue collar; rich or poor; black or white; gay or straight; 1% or 99%; religious or Nones.
In an effort to change minds and change morals, the church has sometimes taken the dark path. It’s approach has sometimes been misguided and wrong. The name and shame game has never been a part of God’s game plan. Publicly calling people out with intent to humiliate them and tell the world how wrong and different they are is anti Christ. Being mean spirited, rude, nasty, argumentative, and arrogant is not in line with scripture and it’s call to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit.
It is not sinful to contend for the faith; it is sinful to contend sinfully.
God never called us to go down that path. The scriptural way to contend for the faith is by “building ourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping ourselves in the love of God, and waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
Showing mercy does not mean compromising our values or dogmas or beliefs. Jude says we ought to “show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
When we speak in defense of the faith, it should always be done with mercy, gentleness and reverence. The only sound, effective and proven way to “save others” (v. 25) is not by starting a culture war; it’s not by leading a life of us against them; it’s simply using the most powerful weapons this world has ever known – love, mercy, grace and truth in all gentleness and humility.