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. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. (Jude 20-23)
There is not enough time to do all you want to do. There is not enough time to do all others want you to do. There is enough time to do what God wants you to do! It is a matter of finding His agenda to drive your priorities. When it comes to church ministries, there are many good things that can claim the time of pastor and people. Jude gives us insight on God’s priorities.
Priority number one is BUILDING (v.20a). Jude isn’t referring to bricks and mortar, but building up God’s people. We have tended to measure a church’s effectiveness by the buildings, budgets and bodies. But that isn’t what the Scripture here suggests. This is spiritual development.
It is a conscious action. You must make a decision to build. It is costly, time consuming business with little immediate results. Building people up won’t happen by accident.
It is a careful action. God has given us a blueprint—the Bible. We must take care to build according to His specifications.
It is a continuous action. The Greek verb is a present active participle meaning continuous action. The work of discipleship is never done—personally or corporately—this side of eternity. Faith is the foundation, but we must carefully build upon it.
Priority number two is PRAYING (v.20b). Concerning praying, when all is said and done—there is often a lot more said than done!
This speaks to the priority of prayer. Without it, we’re on a religious treadmill. We can do much after we pray, but nothing until we pray.
We recognize the power of prayer. The Spirit gives the direction and dynamic to our praying. He is the source of our power.
Priority number three is LOVING (v.21a). Jesus loved the church and gave himself for her. We are to follow His model.
This demands our personal effort. You must keep yourself—it’s a choice. You don’t fall in or out of love. Guard your heart.
It speaks to our present environment. We abide in an atmosphere of holy, heavenly love. This is love for our Father and love for our brother. You can’t love one and not the other.
Priority number four is LOOKING (v.21a). The most effective ministry is one done with an eye on eternity.
This is a look or preparation. The most important dimension of Christ’s return is a call to readiness. What are we doing that is of eternal significance?
This is a look of expectation. The script of this story we call life can bring difficulty, but just remember the final chapter ends in glory!
Priority number five is REACHING (v.22-23).
This speaks to our compassion (v.22). All about us we see the misery caused by the mastery of sin. We can help by reaching out with the Gospel!
This should be our compulsion (v.23). The fire of hell compels us to sound the warning. Lost souls cannot rescue themselves. We must pull them out.
May God keep us focused on these priorities! Some day when we stand before Him, we’ll be glad we did!