“keep yourselves in the love of God”–Jude 1:21
My Dear Family in Christ,
The words of our Lord’s half-brother, Jude (quoted above), are a bit perplexing, especially in light of what we know to be true about God’s love for us. If we examine them too quickly, only in a cursory fashion, we might wrongly conclude that we have to ‘work’ in order to remain loved by the Father. In this case, Jude would be exhorting us to labor hard to be loved, to perform in order to be worthy of Divine affection.
But, as we know, such a view of these inspired words, if true, would stand in direct contradiction to all that we know and believe about God’s love for sinners. If this were our conclusion, then any notion of our Father’s redeeming, sovereign, and free love for unworthy sinners would suffer complete destruction! We would all, in the end, stand in a hopeless state forever.
So, what exactly is Jude telling us to do by means of such a strange sounding command?
Well, my suspicion is that by the use of the word “keep” Jude has in mind the idea of ‘location.’ The exhortation is, after all, to stay “in” God’s love. It is, as one modern translation reads, to, “Keep yourselves safe in God’s love.”
This reading would suggest that Jude’s call is for each of us to discover and experience the security and safety we already have as a result of our Father’s unfailing love for us.
If I might be permitted to offer a paraphrase of verse 21, it would go something like this:
“As you await the full revelation of the mercy of the Lord Jesus when He comes again, find your peace and strength in the truth that your Father loves you! And stand right there in that truth no matter what! And don’t let anything or anyone move you away from this one blessed fact!”
Another way we might get at Jude’s meaning would be to say that the one reality that is to govern our lives of service to our Lord, and also our daily warfare of loyalty and obedience to Him, is that our Father loves us with an immeasurable love!
In practical terms, this means that:
When I fail Him and fall into sin against Him, I stand in His never-changing love for me that has fully made atonement for all of my transgressions.
When I am assailed with doubts and uncertainties, I run for cover under the massive shadow of His love that will always protect me.
When I am weak, weary, and ready to give up, I find my one source of strength in the reality of His omnipotent love for me, which fills my soul with a new resolve.
When I succumb to the illusion that I am alone, I call out to Him who is always with me, enfolding me in His omnipresent love that will never depart from me.
In other words, if we belong to Jesus, then the first duty we have each day is to remember where we are: we are always “in” our Father’s love! It is here where we must stand. It is here where we must repeatedly discover our hope and security! And it is “in” this blessed and holy place that we must ever abide, even as we await our Savior’s return!
My prayer for you today is that you will know His love and rest securely “in” it all day, and every day! This is the one truth that changes everything. As they say in real estate, it all comes down to ‘location, location, and location’!
I love you all with all of my heart,
PS: This is our final Monday Encouragement for 2021. The next one will be delivered to you on January 3, 2022, the Lord willing. In the meantime, during December I’ll be sharing some (hopefully encouraging!) words with you each Friday in our Sermon Preview emails.