“…These are sensual people, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 17-23)
There are troublesome people, “not having the Spirit” and “causing divisions,” both inside our immediate communities and outside them, as we might be troubled to hear every day in the news. But the Apostle Jude is talking about those “inside” our immediate surroundings, “who cause divisions.” Because those “outside” of “us” really tend to bind us more together, as a common enemy does, rather than “cause divisions” amongst us, don’t they?
Who are those amongst “us,” who cause divisions, and how are we to deal with them? Right now I can’t think of anyone specifically, except for myself. I am one of these people, at least occasionally, whenever I say the wrong thing, or the unnecessary or selfish thing, to my closest loved ones, to the “us” of whom I am a part. I cause “divisions” within and between “us,” when my words cause a division between the love “we” fundamentally have for one another, and the hurt that my words have inflicted on that love. And because I often immediately regret having been “that person,” who “caused divisions,” having said the “wrong” thing, and want to “fix” it, but don’t know how to do that, I’m grateful to the Apostle’s instructions on how to deal with this situation. He says, we are first and foremost to “build ourselves up on our most holy faith,” and to “pray in the Holy Spirit,” and to “keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” In “some” cases we are to have “compassion” with ourselves, because some slips of our tongue are not malevolent, while in “others” we need to be more stringent, with some productive “fear, pulling them out of the fire,” because we’ve gone down a road that is just wrong.
So let me move forward today, and “build myself up on our most holy faith,” if I’m confronted with any mess resulting from my own, divisive words, according to the instructions of St. Jude. (He is, BTW, the patron-saint of hopeless cases). Let me “pray in the Holy Spirit,” and keep myself in the love of God, “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ,” both for myself and others, “unto eternal life.” Amen!