The world tells us to love ourselves. The Bible says to Build Yourself Up. These are two different approaches to growth. Those who love themselves only focus on themselves. Those who build themselves up learn that the way that it happens is by loving on others and serving them. Focus on filling yourself with God’s word and serving others.
These people are blemishes at your love feasts, 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… “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Your spiritual growth is dependent upon the Holy Spirit and you. God puts other people in our lives to teach and mentor us, but we can’t place our dependence upon them. We grow close to other believers and sometimes they aren’t the people we think they are. The early church was infiltrated with false prophets and selfish pastors. Jude tells us how to identify these imposters. He tells us that they look normal like the rest of us which means they are difficult to identify. Build yourself up by being teachable.
He does give us some indicators how to spot them. First, the shepherd (pastor) feeds only himself. This is a metaphor for a leader who solely focuses on himself. He talks about himself a lot, does ministry that brings attention to himself, and is threatened by other people. Second, they show no fruit in their ministry. Clouds without rain blown by the wind are leaders who want to look impressive but react to everything and aren’t driven by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Finally, they are twice dead. This means that there was once life in them, but it has vanished. These leaders need our prayers. Pray that God will either revive them or remove them.
Jude does give us three things we should focus on. First, we should be praying in the Holy Spirit. This means that we are filled with the Spirit and are sensitive to His leading. Second, we need to keep ourselves in the love of God. With our hearts full of the Holy Spirit the fruit of that should be love. We can’t be distracted by the love of other idols; we have to be wholeheartedly devoted to God. It also means that we need to understand that God’s love doesn’t ebb and flow with us but is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Finally, we need to realize that God’s mercy is there for us. When we blow it and feel miserable His mercy is there for us. He restores our broken heart and strengthens us. Build yourself up today.
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