Jude 1:20-21 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
This passage has long been used in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles to encourage praying in tongues. That’s not unreasonable, but this says far more than that. In the first place it speaks of our personal responsibility for spiritual growth. Far too many Christians expect to be spoon fed on Sundays and do hardly anything focused on God during the week. That would certainly fit the profile of the 1-talent servant in Jesus’ parable! (Matthew 25:14-30) In the second place, praying in the Holy Spirit is hardly limited to praying in tongues. Actually, all of our prayers should be guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit, because He certainly knows how to pray according to the Father’s will far better than we do. (Romans 8:26-27, 1 Corinthians 2:10-11) It is the next part that particularly gets ignored. We cling to passages like Romans 8:38-39, which says that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and so fail to grasp what is being said here. Jesus Himself said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:9-10) That sounds exactly like what His half-brother Jude says here. Too often we sing about God’s love, grace, and mercy and forget the little matter of our obedience. It’s not that God doesn’t love us when we disobey Him, it’s that we step outside of the realm of His benefits for us when we ignore or deliberately violate what He has said, either to do or not to do. Even Jude is talking about Jesus’ mercy – extremely appropriate when he grew up with Him but didn’t believe in Him until after His resurrection – because none of us obey perfectly. We let temporal things distract us from the eternal, the visible from the invisible, so we are dependent on God’s grace and mercy. That’s why we need to make full use of what God provides to draw closer to Him in obedience.
Growing up in the home I did, pride and presumption nearly did me in. I knew Jesus and thought I loved Him, but that love wasn’t demonstrated in obedience the way Jesus said. I certainly wasn’t taking Jude’s advice here. In God’s incredible grace and mercy He pointed that out to me after I was married, a father, and out of the Army, and it has been quite a journey since then. There are times when I feel very desirous of God taking me home NOW, but I know the timing of that is entirely His business, and meanwhile He has work for me to do. I am still all-too-easily distracted by temporal things. I need to remember a truth I heard many years ago: sometimes the good will keep us from God. If I focus so hard on what seems good to me that I lose sight of God, then that good has become a tool of the devil. I need to surrender everything to Him and allow Him to do for, in, and through me what He has planned, for His glory.
Father, You know the devastation I feel at losing the land next door. You know all the issues that are connected to that in my mind and emotions. You also know far better than I do what You want to do in and through me, and I know that Your plans are always good. (Jeremiah 29:11) Help me keep myself in Your love through my obedience, so that Your plans may be fulfilled indeed, in Your way and on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!