Jesus was (and is) a relational leader. He took time for children others tried to shoo away. He showed kindness to lepers and others society regarded as outcasts. He healed a man with a long-term disability who had spent decades lying limply by the Pool of Bethesda. He brought spiritual freedom to a fellow tormented by demons who lived in a cemetery and terrorized those who passed by. Jesus accepted dinner invitations from despised tax collectors—and from self-righteous Pharisees.
Not only was Jesus a relational leader; he modeled spiritual discernment as he dealt with people. He knew when his disciples needed to step away from the crowds for private, in-depth conversations. He answered sincere inquiries, but he avoided verbal traps and recognized when questioners were trying to trip him up. He was flexible and interruptible, but he refused to be detoured when it was time to set his face toward Jerusalem.
Jesus didn’t evaluate the worth of others by their looks, socio-economic status, or religious reputation. He broke with cultural norms by talking with a Samaritan woman who had been married five times. He was generous with his time and his healing touch, but often slipped away for times of private prayer.
The People Around You
Do you exercise spiritual discernment as you interact with others? Jude’s epistle mentions different kinds of people you’re likely to encounter.
Scoffers will try to tear you down. “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires” (Jude v. 18). That’s why Jesus’ disciples need the shrewdness of serpents and the innocence of doves (Matthew 10:16). He calls us to be kind without being gullible, fair without being foolish, open-minded without being naïve. “Do not believe every spirit,” John warns, “but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). We must stand firmly against false doctrines that distort “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude v. 3).
Friends will build you up. Three times in his short letter (vv. 3, 17, and 20), Jude refers to fellow believers as agapetoi (“dear friends” or “beloved ones”). What a blessing it is when God places individuals in your life who share with you the riches of his selfless agapelove! That’s the kind of friendship David shared with Jonathan, Jesus shared with John “the beloved disciple,” and Paul shared with Timothy and Titus. Always be on the lookout for potential partners to travel with you on your spiritual journey, “building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).
Seekers need your help. Are there individuals in your circle of influence who are searching for spiritual guidance and asking honest questions about God and the Bible? Do you know any half-hearted drifters and back-sliding Christ-followers who would benefit from gracious but straightforward reminders about their accountability to God? “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear” (vv. 22, 23).
The Lord will be with you always. God “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (v. 24). No inter-personal relationship is more important than your connection with him.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.