“But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and keep yourselves in the love of God, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy to give you eternal life. Show mercy toward those who have doubts; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and to others show mercy mixed with fear, but hate their very clothes, stained by their sinful lusts. Jude 1: 20-23 (GNT)
The Apostle Jude was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. In the Bible it is recorded as “Judas the son of James” or “Judas son of James”. He was known by another name, Thaddaeus, or Judas Thaddaeus. In the above verse the Apostle Jude writes to the church so that they have compassion, compassion, towards others. This is not an easy thing to do.
Maybe to feel sorry for those who look good enough in life, we can do it. Aren’t they good enough to be Christians? But, to be able to have mercy on people who are seen living in sin, we may feel less able. They are less likely to be followers of Christ. So maybe we think.
Is it important that we learn to be compassionate? The answer to this question is a certainty: Yes. This world is full of people who are suffering, both physically and spiritually. If we really want to love our neighbor as it is written in the law of love, we do not want to have to learn to be able to cry with people who cry. We must also be able to mourn those who live in sin but do not realize it or are unable to correct it. The ability to have compassion and empathy is not something we easily acquire, if that is indeed based on true love and not just to pretend.
How can we learn to have compassion and empathy? We must learn from the Lord Jesus who came down to earth as a human being. Jesus could not only weep when Lazarus, His beloved, died. Jesus also wept when He saw Jerusalem because the people of the city did not realize their sin when they rejected the Savior, and they did not know the calamity that was to come (Luke 19: 41-42).
For many Christians today it may not be difficult to have compassion and empathy if a family member or church member is in trouble. However, this manifestation of love is often hindered if those affected by the disaster are not Christians, not loved ones, not relatives or friends, or perhaps living far away. In this case, it is as if there is a wall that limits their love.
This morning, the word of God reminds us not to limit our compassion and empathy to those around us. God does not command us to love, help and pray for our friends or relatives only. All men have sinned and need forgiveness through the blood of Christ. Thus, our love is not just for people of the same family, religion, church, heaven or country. Instead, we must be able to channel the love of God we have received to everyone, including those who hate us, so that they too can be saved. What we hate is their sin, not the persons. Just as we once needed the help of others to lead us to Christ, they need us to lead them to the right path.
“But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.” Matthew 5: 44 – 45 (GNT)