A dear family friend who was much like a second mother to me used to include her favorite verse in the emails she wrote me. Drawing from Jude 21, she would always write, “Keep yourself in the love of God!” She valued this verse so much that she even had it tattooed on her hand. Lisa’s choice to have a permanent reminder of God’s love embedded in her hand was a demonstration of how significant God’s love is in our lives. Though she is no longer here, God continues to remind me of His love through her example.
All day yesterday I kept thinking of these words. It was as if God was telling me, “Keep yourself in My love” over and over again. I started wondering, how do I keep myself in God’s love? Today I took a closer look at this Scripture:
“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.” (Jude 20-21 NKJV)
What does it mean to keep ourselves in God’s love and what does it mean to look for the mercy of Jesus?
The word “keep” means to attend to carefully, take care of, guard.
To “look for” means to receive, to give access to, to expect.
Finally, “mercy” means kindness or goodwill towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with the desire to help them.
So, I must attend to myself carefully, take care of myself, and guard myself in such a way that is IN the LOVE of God. Criticizing my body or my personality, giving into negative self-talk, and fixating on self-hate are NOT ways of taking care of myself or guarding myself in God’s love.
In addition to keeping myself in the love of God, I must receive and expect God’s kindness and goodwill towards me along with His desire to help me. We cannot experience God’s mercy unless we receive it. He offers the free gift to us, but are we accepting it? Are you receiving His kindness towards you and His desire to help you? He is holding it out in front of you, now you must choose to grab it.
The concept of keeping myself in God’s love and receiving His mercy is great, but how do I do this? How can I practically keep myself in God’s love and look for His mercy every day? I believe the answer can be found in verse 20. We must build ourselves on faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
“Faith” means conviction of the truth about man’s relationship to God (in the New Testament). Therefore, I must BUILD myself on the TRUTH that I am God’s child whom He loves, values, accepts, and views just like He views Jesus. How do you build yourself on this truth? You spend time READING truth in Scripture. Perhaps you also surround yourself with a community of truth-tellers, interacting with friends who point you towards God’s truth.
Additionally, you pray in the Spirit. As you spend time in prayer, the Spirit will lead you to pray for the right things in accordance with God’s will. When it is hard for me to see truth and to pray about truth, the Spirit leads me. He helps me to pray in TRUTH.
My challenge today is that we spend time evaluating our lives (including our choices, thoughts, and behaviors) and identify the things that are keeping us in the love of God as well as the things that are NOT keeping us in the love of God.
For me, having time in prayer and Scripture every morning is an example of how I can keep myself in God’s love, so that I can remember the truth I read in Scripture when I am later faced with the temptation to sink into self-loathing.
An example of something that does NOT keep me in God’s love would be engaging in self-criticism about my body. This is NOT a way of taking care of myself or guarding myself in God’s love.
I would love to hear about your own observations if you wish to leave a comment.
My true desire is to sink into God’s mercy and to lean into His love today.
The cry of my heart is expressed perfectly in the lyrics of this song, “Sinking Deep”. I’ve been listening to it over and over again and would encourage you to listen to it too!