“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood…” -Revelation 1:5
“Keep yourselves in the love of God.” -Jude 21
What is wrong with Jesus telling you He loves you? Is this a stupid question or does it point accurately to a problem with which we are all vulnerable? You can do many things with an expression of love. Think of those expressions of love you often hear from people in your life. What does this elicit in you? Do you take it for granted? Are you upset if you do not hear it enough, or not at all? Do you love back the one who says they love you and hunger for the expression of their love in return?
Near its conclusion the Book of Jude has what might be considered a strange command: “Keep yourselves in the love of God!” Does this imply you have to be constantly doing something to hold on to God’s love? Does Jesus’ love require something you do to deserve it? I think you will say “no,” but do your actual life choices and personal preferences betray that?
Throughout Scripture Jesus and His Father make declarations of their love to you, not once or twice, but repeatedly. Jesus went to the cross willingly and voluntarily as the supreme expression of His Father’s love for you. When you were still dead in your sins God loved you, Jesus loved you, and the Spirit is intent to spread that knowledge in your heart.
So what does it mean to “keep yourselves in the love of God?” Put together with all of Scripture, it does not mean you have to earn God’s love. Nowhere in the Bible is there the slightest expression of such a thought. The Bible clearly says, “All your righteousness is as filthy rags.” As the great hymn “Rock of Ages” also points out, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling. Naked come to Thee for dress, helpless look to Thee for grace. Foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”
What this expression of “keeping yourselves in the love of God” really says speaks to your recognition, acceptance, and growth in the knowledge and comfort of God’s unfathomable love for you in Jesus. He loves you, but you do not have the power of that love working its good in your mind and heart – that is, until you yourself intimately know and love the Lover, acknowledging His expressed love for you with humility and gratefulness. You need to be overwhelmed with God’s unmerited love, expressing it through your own joy of listening to and obeying His voice with the very best you have.
Your lack of love for God does not diminish His love for you, it only diminishes your personal joy and comfort. By not acknowledging His love and not drawing the strength which emanates from the knowledge of it, you squander something which is meant to be yours in Christ. Your very reason for being, for living life to the fullest is knowing and responding to this truth: God loves you in Jesus.
If His love for you is neither here nor there in your mind, if the real essence of your knowing and responding is “whatever,” then you are not “keeping yourself in the love of God!” Jude is expressing an essential element of your life as a Christ-follower, namely your visible, tangible, love for the Lover.
You need to capitalize on God’s heralded love for you. You can do that by treasuring His love, relishing the very truth that Jesus loves you. Anyone and everyone around you cannot keep from knowing this when they see your life and hear you talk. This ought to be the most known “secret” of your life. You cannot keep it to yourself, nor can you unwittingly ignore it!
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”
(First verse of Anna Bartlett Warner’s hymn, “Jesus Loves Me,” 1859)
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