Jude 17–23 ‘Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy…’ (vv22–23a)
This letter by Jesus’ half-brother doesn’t mince its words, as Jude feels the need to ‘contend’ for the faith (v3) and warn his readers to stick with it.
These closing words to his short letter remind us that there is no ‘one size fits all’ response to people we might regard as struggling with their faith.
In some cases, there are people who are having a faith wobble. Maybe some event has rocked their faith, maybe they have been let down by a fellow Christian, and so they are questioning what they thought they believed.
Others are more defiantly behaving in ways that overthrow the truth they have known and loved to the point where they are prepared to commit apostasy.
Others are being dragged away and so we need to get alongside them but beware lest we become contaminated ourselves or tempted to join them.
Treating people in one category as if they were in another won’t be too helpful: we can be overly harsh, or overly complacent.
Neither wins our brother or sister over and we might make matters worse. Jude seems to imply that we need to make time to get to know people, journey with them, listen, gently ask questions and discern with God what words and actions will be best, perhaps asking the advice of others who also know them.
Like a surgeon, you need to be very careful so that your words cut out the bad, without harming the good.
A Prayer To Make:
God, give me discernment to understand how I can help fellow believers who are going astray. Amen.
An Action To Take:
If you know someone drifting from faith, prayerfully, carefully and thoughtfully look to get into a conversation with them. It may be that you can help.
Scripture To Consider:
Gen. 4:6–16; 1 Sam. 2:27–36; Rom. 2:5–11; Gal. 5:19–21