And of some have compassion, making a difference:  And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:22-23)
Last week in my comments on the epistle of Jude, I spoke of Jude’s encouragement for believers to stand firm in the faith. “The faith” is the whole body of Christian doctrine that has been given to us through the pages of the Holy Scriptures. We are told in verse 3 to contend for the faith and in verse 17 to remember the words spoken by Jesus and the apostles when they warned about those that mock and subvert the faith. When they reach their final stage of apostasy they are to be put out of the church (Titus 3:8-11).
Jude follows numerous verses of warning about subversives with an interesting comment in verse 22. He asks for compassion in dealing with them because there are some that can be brought back when they are handled with loving care. Some have been deceived without realizing it and if they are treated correctly the Holy Spirit can use us to bring them back to the truth.
As I read this passage, my eyes were fixed on the word compassion. This is a word that means we are affected deeply within. If I could put it in another way, it is the willingness to show mercy from the deepest, kindest affections. The word is applied in these verses toward the wayward that we desire to see come back to the faith, but I also thought how it can be applied to those that are helpless and hurting and suffering. We have a few people in our congregation that are going through some really tough physical illnesses. We place their names on the prayer page, but I wonder how many of us really feel their suffering as if it was happening to us? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12 that members of the church should have such care for one another that when one member suffers all the members suffer with him.
It is easy for members of the same church to forget the problems of others especially when so many people are consumed with self. Many times we are just “acquaintances” of people at church and there is no feeling of closeness to them. There is no sense of family which would lead us to genuine care and concern for others. This is part of the function of the church. Our church should be a place of camaraderie, of people that are going to the same place and are living with the same desires. When you see words like compassion, forgiveness, and love in scripture, remember these are words that are also applied to God. When we are told to have compassion, it means as “God is full of compassion” (Ps. 86:15). Forgiveness is to forgive “as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph.4:32). To love others is as “Christ also hath loved us, and given himself for us…” (Eph. 5:2). These are characteristics of God that are intended to be a part of the person recreated in Christ. Colossians says we have put off the old man (old desires and way of life) “And have put on the new man, which is renewed after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).
Think about God’s expectations from His people whenever you hear about another member that is hurting. Be ready to give aid with a kind compassionate heart. Jesus said “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).
Pastor V. Mark Smith