What about the others in life Jude?
Jude was passionate for the spiritual quality of believer’s lives. He was not a man for wasting words or dulling down truth so that the reader could not understand what he was talking about. Likewise, Jude did not over state facts in order to sound more impressive. He simply allowed truth to be truth. Even though Jude has majored on correction in this short letter, he concludes with a refreshing exhortation targeted at three groups.
This is a wonderful reminder for all Christians, that in the muck of life, keep your eyes open for the God given opportunities to show mercy. Jude :22-23 “And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” For the genuine believer in this Church, Jude says to watch for: (a) the doubters, (b) those who need pulling urgently from the flames of sin, and (c) those engrossed in sinful living who need nervous mercy.
Up until verse 22, Jude has only addressed the apostates and the authentic believers. In a church which obviously had extreme personalities and behaviours, you could be forgiven for thinking there were only the bad guys and the good guys. But no, mingled in the middle of the wicked and righteous extremes were three types of people needing merciful attention. We too, need to watch for these three groups of people which cross our paths from time to time.
First, are the doubters. These were sincere people who were legitimately questioning and possibly confused by the pretenders who had “crept in unnoticed” (:4) to spread their poison. These genuine people are often the soft-hearted ones who should be treated with compassion. They often assume the best of everyone and find it difficult to accept bad news about someone they know who is spreading biblical error or evil behaviour. God’s people need to show them patient kindness while firmly pointing them towards a solid faith in Christ.
Second, are those who need pulling urgently from the flames of sin. These are people who most likely appear genuine with their words, yet because of their unbelief they have become seduced into error and sinful living. These people often have a tenderness toward the gospel when spoken to directly by God’s Word. These still experience conviction. Therefore, snatch them from the coming judgement as your rescue mission for the Saviour.
Third, are those deeply engrossed in sinful living who need to be approached with nervous mercy. These people are typically insincere towards the Lord. They may laugh much of the gospel truth off as irrelevant. These have been well and truly lured into a lifestyle of sensual, worldly thinking and living. Jude is clear, approach them with caution!
While they are not beyond hope, be aware that they will try to swing the faithful believer into a life sin. They still require compassion from a soft hearted yet strong believer who steps into their world with Christ. They need a biblically decisive gospel call to repentance of sin. A call that says the Lord is returning “to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (:15).
Christian be encouraged, during these uncertain times, you are an ambassador of God’s mercy to all three groups of people. Prayerfully be on the lookout to rescue them for Christ.