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.”