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I find it marvelously appropriate that following close on the heels of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday that the Come Follow Me curriculum explores the Letter or Epistle of Jude.
Like the author of the Letter of James, the Letter of Jude was written by Jesus’s younger half-brother. Jude is a shortened form of the ancient Israelite name Judah. What is so fitting in this season of thankfulness is that Judah means Thanks! More specifically, the name Judah means “to praise” and by extension “one worthy of thanks.”
Who is the object of our praise and thanks? Jude’s older brother Jesus. That is something we all have in common with Jude. Jesus is our older brother.
Hey Christians! Do We Really Do What We Claim to Believe?
Jude had strong words for those claiming to be Christian, but their souls were like whited sepulchers full of dead men’s bones. They had the form but no substance. They were Christians in name only. They attended church services but had no intention of keeping the sacramental covenant. In this regard, they covenanted in vain, that is without real intent or purpose. Jude said of these soulless in-name-only Christians,
“These people [in-name-only Christians] are blemishes at your love feasts [sacrament meetings], eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 1:12-13 NIV translation.)
Mercy Begets Mercy: Unto Whom Much Is Given Much Is Required
As one of the shortest books in the entire Bible (remember that the word Bible is the plural for “books” in Greek) the amount of doctrine and motivating exhortation packed into Jude is impressive. Ending his Letter with a beautiful flourish focused on mercy, Jude [thanks] is appropriately named. What do we give thanks for? So many things, but ultimately only one prevails: Jesus’ mercy freely given us.
What does Jesus expect of us in return? That we show mercy to others.
“But you beloved [saints], build yourselves upon [the foundation] of your holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God while waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is unto eternal life. Be merciful to those who wander [or doubt].” (My translation from the original Greek of Jude 1:20-22, emphasis added.)
Give Thanks by Giving Mercy
During this time of thanksgiving when we turn our hearts to God in gratitude for the gift and birth of His Son Jesus Christ, let us demonstrate by our actions that we are true Christians. Let us freely give of the mercy we have so fully and freely received from Jesus. Let us act as He did, to welcome home the sinner, to bind up the broken-hearted, to mourn with those that mourn, to comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and to sharing the expansive and expanding give of never ending mercy that flows from Jesus Christ.
Now that is a thanks and thanksgiving well met.