If you went around rebuking others, acting like a policeman for “God’s spiritual force”, you’d be the LAST person I’d want to talk to!
We are not the Holy Spirit who convicts and sanctifies people according to God’s will. Though God may use us as a conduit for genuine change in people, He did not employed us to be the holy cops of church.
I have to admit that I made that mistake in college. I even got battle scars to prove it. So when LBCLA began studying the book of Jude in our summer CAFE (Care Accountability Fellowship Equipping) groups, I believe that it was quite timely for me.
In the book of Jude, the author reminds the readers to have mercy on those who doubt, save others by snatching them out of the fire, and show mercy to others, mixed with fear and hating “even the garment stained by flesh.” (cf. Jude 22-23) There are 3 categories of people enumerated here: (1) Doubters, (2) Detractors, (3) Defectors. Doubters are confused, thus requiring gentleness and mercy in addressing issues. Detractors are those dabbling in the wrong things, calling for a stronger response, to the point of “snatching them out of the fire.” Defectors are the ones who are convinced, seemingly beyond reason, devoted to following an aberration of God’s truth. Those people do require mercy, but with a great measure of discernment, seen in the phrase “hating even the garment stained by flesh.” There is a reality behind these words, that Christians are engaged in spiritual war and agents of chaos are employed by evil to confuse believers, making them complacent or confused. Hence Jude reminds the readers to be utterly cautious while showing mercy to these people. If Satan can’t take away your salvation, he can do the next best thing and make you confused and inept.
We also see this pattern repeated by Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, where we see grace and truth balanced in the believer’s response to doubters, detractors, and defectors. Here, Paul reminds Timothy to show Christ-like character in his approach, yet without compromising the precious truth given to him, as referred in v. 14-16.
Nowadays I think before I speak (or I try to), lest I lose another thread of friends due to my stupid mouth. I’m learning that a safe default is to pray. Pray for the Holy Spirit to change a person’s heart and trust in Him who will do all things to His glory. These are lessons that I am still reviewing and relearning constantly, as I recognize in myself that I am still broken and flawed in many ways.
Praise God that He is able to keep us from stumbling and present us “blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.” Praise Him who has bought our salvation with Christ’s blood and continually sanctifies us for His purposes. Praise the Lord that we get to be blessed recipients of His grace and that in spite of us, He gets the glory!