And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 1:22-23 ESV)
When I got to the top of the stairs, I saw it . . . a trail of pieces of thin mint wrappers that had fallen from the tall sofa table that sat next to our couch. The singing Christmas Mickey Mouse was knocked over and the nativity scene looked like Godzilla had marched through it.
Which she had.
Our little terrier, Mona, had managed to jump onto the table from the arm of the couch and snuck across to the box of mints, helping herself to a few, (all the while terrorizing the tiny Bethlehem village).
And then I saw it.
A slightly chewed and regurgitated pile of chocolate, minty goodness. Clearly she had been deceived by the chocolate scent – not knowing that a sharp, strong mint taste hid underneath. We all knew that Mona’s weakness is chocolate and that is exactly why we placed it – we thought – out of her reach. We weren’t trying to tempt her or put her at risk! Chocolate can be fatal to canines!
I saw Mona’s mess as a result of her weakness and was more upset with myself for having not protected her properly. My daughter Tia, on the other hand, considered the dog’s actions as willful and wanted to punish her, to fill her with fear in order to protect her from ever trying the dangerous Evel Knievel stunt again.
Just like Mona, we Christians can be deceived and find ourselves in dangerous messes! Which is why Jude commanded that we watch over each other.
Matthew Henry in his commentary of Jude had an interesting thought:
We must watch over one another; faithfully, yet prudently reprove each other, and set a good example to all about us. This must be done with compassion, making a difference between the weak and the wilful. Some we must treat with tenderness. Others save with fear; urging the terrors of the Lord.
It’s important when we approach struggling sisters that we do so carefully and with discernment. Only the Lord knows their heart. First, we should go the tender route, assuming that their actions are a result of weakness. But, if it’s apparent that they are in flat-out, willful rebellion, then it’s time to turn up the heat and attempt to save them with the fear of the Lord. Because deception can be deadly.
Father, we thank You that you designed us to be in community and to care for each other. Help us to be tender towards one another, yet brave enough to know when to be strong and instill godly fear into the lives and hearts of those who are tiptoeing through dangerous territory. In Jesus’ name, Amen!