Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh (Jude 22-23 NIV)
In the Book of Jude, we are given instruction on dealing with people who are straying from the truth. We are to show mercy to all, but it appears that with ones departing from the righteousness, there are different methods in responding to them. One size does not seem to fit all.
God instructs us in this little book that we must distinguish between those straying from the Lord who are weak or wavering in their faith, and those who are willful in their sinful actions. Compassion must be extended to those whose actions are motivated by a lack of knowledge. Without sensitivity, we can crush those who are struggling in their faith through doubt. But for others there appears to be a different way of helping them. Those who are making conscious choices against the will of God, a dose of the fear of the Lord, helping them to see the consequences of their decisions, may be what is needed. Being overly compassionate to those who are presuming on the grace of God is like pouring gasoline on fire. The New LivingTranslation says that we should show mercy, but with great caution, hating their sins. There is a point with some people, though we love them, where we must hate their sin. In not doing so, we risk being contaminated by their sin and compromising our faith.
Truth can heal, or truth can kill. We are told in 2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV that we must rightly divide the word of truth. Mercy is administered differently to weak and willful sinners.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing