Do you read the tabloid headlines while you’re standing in the check-out line? They entice us to buy their publications by telling us about all the ways in which celebrities have messed up. Sometimes it’s as minor a thing as going out in public without make-up, but that’s generally only on a slow news day. More often it’s about more foolish things that they have done, or perhaps even a crime that they’ve committed. Many of us have probably done similar things; they just don’t make the papers. How can we keep from stumbling and instead do the right thing?
In Jude’s letter to Christians, Jude recalls how Enoch prophesied judgement against the ungodly. (Jude 1:14-16) Then, Jude 1:17 starts with a “but”, indicating an opposite alternative, and goes on to tell us (Jude 1:17-23) that God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, is the one who is able to keep us from stumbling. Jude’s final blessing (Jude 1:24-25) attributes all the glory, majesty, power and authority to God and indicates that He is the one who will enable us to stand and rejoice, and to be an acceptable offering to Him. In Old Testament times, only animals that were without blemish were an acceptable sacrifice. In order for us to be an acceptable gift to God, we, too, must be without blemish.
So what do we need to do to have this privilege, this good standing? First, we need to realize that it is a gift from God—He is the one who is able to make it happen (Jude 1:24); so we need to put our trust in Him. Second, we need to do our part, which is to stay strong in our faith. Jude says to recall what the apostles said. (Jude 1:17) At the time of Jude, what the apostles said, and the letters they had written were as close as they had to a New Testament. Now, of course, we have the benefit of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, which includes the words of the apostles, all neatly bound in one book or on our computer screen. It is so much more accessible to us than it has been to any generation before. It is the Word of God; one of the best things we can do is to read it and study it. Third, we need to pray. Jude says to pray in the Holy Spirit. It is because of the gift of the Holy Spirit living within us that we can come to God in prayer. Fourth, we need to be merciful to those who are seeking the truth, but resist the evil of those who reject God and are controlled by their own selfish desires.
By staying in close communication with God, by reading His Word, and trusting Him, we will be able to avoid stumbling. We will be able to defend our faith and help others. (Jude 1:17-23) In the end, because of God’s mercy, we will be able to stand before Him, an acceptable offering, rejoicing in His presence. May He alone be praised. (Jude 1:24-25)