Build Yourselves Up

The Christian life is simple, but it is not easy. God’s directions to us are not complicated or unclear, but we often encounter hard things. Following Christ is not like floating on an inner tube down a lazy river. In fact, drifting can be  dangerous. The Christian life requires attentiveness and diligence, perseverance and faith. It is challenging and rewarding in the very best and truest sense.

We sometimes forget that we are the ones responsible for “how we are doing” in the Lord.  Consider these verses (20-21) in Jude:

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

Notice our responsibility here. We are to build ourselves up in our faith. We are to keep ourselves in the love of God. How do we do this? God always gives us the means to obey His commands. Notice that we are to be praying in the Holy Spirit. We build ourselves up in the faith by prayer, by reading the Word and doing what it says. We certainly cannot build ourselves up if we are giving way to our fleshly impulses or settling for a comfortable Christianity that requires nothing of us but church attendance.

Building mean construction. It requires effort and concentration. It doesn’t happen all by itself. You are your own building project! So get going. Get to work. Read, pray, obey. Spiritual idleness is the enemy. Tackle it.

Keeping ourselves in the love of God means sticking with it. It means holding on to our faith in the love of God. We must not get distracted or quit in the midst of difficulty. That’s the worst time to let go. When things are hard, that’s the time to hold on tight, to keep yourself, to exercise dominion over your own soul in Christ. Letting go happens when we accept compromises, cut corners, make excuses, look for the easy way, or indulge sin. Keep yourself in the love of God. Don’t expect everyone else to keep you in the love of God. You are responsible for your own soul.

Notice that Jude says while we keep ourselves in the love of God, our eyes are fastened on our Lord Jesus, the giver of mercy and eternal life. Funny that while we are keeping ourselves and building ourselves up, we are not focused on ourselves at all, but on Him. That is really central. That is the whole point. The only way we can build ourselves and keep ourselves is by looking away from ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.

This means we are not looking at our obedience. We are looking at Him.

And wonderfully, He is able to keep us from falling. He is able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (vs. 24). So as we are keeping ourselves, He is keeping us. No wonder Jude ends by bursting into praise: “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

 

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12 thoughts on “Build Yourselves Up

  1. Thank you for such practical encouragement.

    I find myself agreeing and nodding as I read this but also know the reality of my heart which sometimes just doesn’t want to do it. What’s to be done in such circumstances? Is it really just a case of “pull yourself up by the bootstraps”?

  2. Oh Lisa!! I know those words!! Get in the Word, confess it to the Lord, plead for His grace and merciful help in your need, and then realize it’s getting on your knees in worship that you will find your strength. All attempts at ‘pulling myself up by my bootstraps’ has ever gotten me was bitter.

  3. Kcaarin – oh yes, so true. Dear Lisa, trying to do it in yourself is operating in the flesh and in my experience, doomed to failure. Submitting to the Holy Spirit to do the work in you is the only way to go. The “work” we are to do is to get ourselves before God and acknowledge our inability.

    I am so thankful for the writings of Andrew Murray (1828-1917) for this reassurance.

  4. (had a few more thoughts, sorry I didn’t get it all into one post) That doesn’t deny discipline and sometimes that is just doing. Fighting what you really don’t want to do can be exhausting but eventually routine makes it a little easier. I think the difference with spiritual discipline is that it’s easier to talk yourself out of. To think that your somehow more spiritual because your impulsively living the Christian life.
    None of this is written from a finger pointing point of view. Please know that I am right there with you Lisa. (I’m just trying very hard to keep my tenses right when writing or talking :) )

  5. Very helpful and reminds me of my notes from Sunday that I accidentally threw away from Ben’s sermon where he exhorted us not to listen to our heart but to talk to it! Psalm 42.
    Thank you Nancy!

  6. Love this exhortation!! In the last couple years, I started listening to my Bible or sermons off my phone (I use headphones, with just one ear-bud in so I can still keep tabs on my kids :-)) on the days when I am really struggling. It has made a huge difference in how often I feel burnt out and down trodden. It is a welcome relief to get out of my own head and secure my focus on Christ.

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