We come today to our third study of Jude’s letter. We have been examining the first of four points, namely a sacred salutation. Last time we considered who Jude was and to whom he wrote this ‘letter of instruction.’ We now will consider the last part of this sacred salutation by looking at what Jude wished for his readers.
Jude desires for them (and us) three principle blessings of salvation. He writes, “May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you” (vs.2). God, who has called, loves, and preserves us; freely bestows these blessings on His people. Jude’s prayer is that the refreshing springs of salvation overflow – inundate us.
What is mercy? Mercy is the manifestation of compassion toward those in need. God will not turn away His mercy to those who see their spiritual bankruptcy. In true sorrow and humility they cry to Him, “God be merciful to me, the sinner (Luke 18:13). Mercy then opens wide its gate to the needy knocker.
God is rich in mercy toward us. Mercy is shown when God forgives us, restores us to a right relationship with Himself, and eases the misery we incur due to our sins. As an old saying puts it, Mercy is “from everlasting”, to contrive thy salvation, and “to everlasting” to perfect it. Mercy is like a flowing river originating with God and which runs its course throughout our Christian life.
One of the characteristics of the citizens of the Kingdom of God is that of mercy. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7). Because God shows us mercy, we also are to be merciful to others. Lets us beware of the warning found in another old saying, Mercy despised brings misery deserved. Let us not walk on the other side of the road when we have an opportunity to show someone in need, mercy. How do we manifest mercy? By forgiving and forbearing with those who wrong us and by seeking to ease the burdens of others as we have opportunity. Because our God is a God of compassion and mercy (James 5:11) let us by His grace be and do likewise.
What is peace? Many define peace as the absence or cessation of war. However, the peace we have here is something far greater than peace in the physical sphere of life. God is the God of peace. It is an essential part of His Being. He has taken the initiative to reconcile us to himself by making peace with us through the cross of Christ. We have peace with God when we are brought into right relationship with the Lord. God’s peace ends the hostility between us and God. We are now in a state that brings harmony and fellowship with God. This is the primary kind of peace that Christ came to establish.
Like mercy, peace and peacemaking is a characteristic of those who belong to the Kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9). This verse was quoted by President Jimmy Carter during the Camp David accords. Yet the president as many miss the true meaning of what Jesus meant by being a peacemaker. A peacemaker is a Son of God. A non-Christian is not a member of the family of God no matter how many peace accords one puts a signature to. Again we must mark it that this peacemaking Jesus speaks of is a characteristic, a family trait, of the members of the family of God.
Sinclair Ferguson points out that the Hebrew word for peace – shalom is a very rich word that has the connotations of wholeness, health, and well being. It can almost be translated “salvation.” Therefore, peacemakers are they who earnestly seek the shalom or salvation of others. As sons and daughters of God we share in the responsibility to speak and live in such a way that it will contribute to the salvation of the lost.
We must not forget that peacemaking goes a step further. The children of God seek peace among themselves. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. We are exhorted to pursue peace with all men and go after the things which make for peace in all spheres of life (Hebrews 12:14, Roman 14:19). This aspect of peace in the spiritual sphere is the real foundation for peace in the physical sphere.
Lastly, Jesus gives us His peace which is opposite what the world offers. Worldly peace is short-lived, deceptive, and unstable. God’s peace gives us that which is lasting, certain, and secure. Peace brings joy in believing and serving the Lord. Peace brings harmony in our relationship to God and one another. In a sinful world full of darkness, chaos, and anxieties; the peace of God guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The heart is the center of our emotions. The heart is the well from which flow the issues of life. We are exhorted to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). The mind is the center of our way of thinking. Our thinking becomes the basis for actions. “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
What is love? Love is more than a ‘many splendid thing.’ Love’s greatest feature is that of self sacrifice…self-less-ness. Love is the giving of oneself wholly for the well being of another. Such love is perfectly witnessed in the life and death of our Lord. Love is the greatest of Christian virtues. Love is at the head of the fruits of the Spirit. We can only love as God requires because God first loved us. Love is the badge worn by Christ’s followers. In obedience to Christ, we manifest the love of Christ to others.
Jesus warned that as the time grows closer to His return, the love of the many will grow cold. The church at Ephesus was rebuked because they left their first love. Their devotion to Christ and their love for others was on the wane. Love-less-ness may characterize the world but it must not the Christian. When we fail to love it grieves the Holy Spirit. Love is like a garden. We must cultivate it in order to produce its lovely fruits. Therefore we must seek grace to cultivate – nurture – foster love in our Christian walk. We are exhorted to pursue love (1 Corinthians 14:1). Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14) Love is kind and edifies others (see 1 Corinthians 13). Walking in love is the fulfilling of the Law of God (see Romans 14: 8-14).
When we exercise repentance and faith we receive mercy, peace, and love. God continually supplies His children with these wonderful blessings. We must go and show the same in all the spheres of life – family, school, workplace, neighborhood, and in the body of Christ, the church. Jude’s desire is that we flourish in an atmosphere energized with mercy, peace, and love.
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