Build Yourselves Up

  “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith…”

Jude 20

So much to unpack here!  Beloved, this is spoken to those who know Him, love Him, abide in Him.  This is not a requirement in order to become a part of His church, but is an expectation set on those in the Church. This is not a command to any other–to those who claim no allegiance to Christ, who scoff at Him, who leave His Body (the church) and walk away from the faith.  This is spoken to His disciples who continue in His words.  

Building yourselves up…  We need teachers, pastors, elders, older men and women in the faith; they serve a role in building us up.  The Church has been given instructions on how to operate as a body, building one another up.  Yet, we too are commanded to build ourselves up.  How?

Paul once told the Philippian church to take everything they had seen or heard from Paul and “practice these things.”  (see Philippians 3)  Spiritual disciplines, practices, or habits of grace.  These all help us set our minds, be renewed in our minds, be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  This is how we grow, how the Spirit directs us to keep in step with Him.  This is the way of walking in the Spirit.  (Romans 8; Romans 12; Colossians 3; Galatians 5)

One of the ways…

“Make every effort to come to me soon…when you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.” 

2 Timothy 3:9-13

No doubt, everyone discipled by Paul saw and heard and knew he was a man in love with the Scriptures.  Not just the writing he was led by the Spirit to undertake, but the reading.  He treasured his library! 

What does your library look like?  

Now is a great time to build your theological library.  Every believer who can, should be engaging their minds in theology–rightly understanding the Word, learning key doctrines (Systematic Theology), seeking answers to tough questions (Philosophical Theology), rather than sweeping them under the rug or worse–answering them according to feelings and notions; seeking to understand the whole story of redemption from Genesis through Revelation as the unified work of the Triune God (Biblical Theology). 

When you have a library to turn to, you have the encouragement you need at your fingertips.  In every generation, we must overcome the temptation to believe we simply cannot focus, we cannot read, we must have snippets.  “Why bother with books, when I can watch an IG reel, a or find a YouTube short?”  Why?  Because you are human, remade in the image of Christ–whose custom it was to spend time with His Father.  Because you have a mind, which never ceases from growing unless you stunt it.  Because we must love Him with all of our being–and we do this by engaging our minds, not entertaining them.

Doctrine and Your Most Holy Faith

Jude opens the letter by speaking of the importance of contending for the faith once for all handed down.  The faith.  “The faith” refers to the learned doctrines of the faith; the teachings we hand down through faithful proclamation, teaching, and preaching within the Church. (And no, the cliche is not true, doctrine does not divide–it is our self and our flesh working apart from the Scriptures; it is when we do not want to agree with Scripture that we cause dissension.) 

Doctrine is for all believers (I’ve written about that here)–if you haven’t yet pondered this, here are a few passages to study, this list is not exhaustive:  

Many believers set yearly goals to read the Bible, perhaps this is the year to set goals to focus on “building yourselves up” concerning doctrine, or perhaps one doctrine per “semester.”  My life lends itself to the semesterly schedule, always has:  as a student, while working at a university for ten years, and now while educating my children… Even though I have earned my MA in Religious Studies: Theology, I will never reach a point in my earthly life where I will say “well, I’ve completely learned all there is to know.” 

None of us will, and this is not disheartening–it is thrilling!  Learning excites us; think about a child who has just learned to read, or how to tie his shoes, or how to complete a task that once proved too difficult–oh how that child delights to tell parents, friends, neighbors, anyone who will listen.  We were created for this! 

Be Intentional

If semesters are not part of your routine, perhaps you’d rather break up the year by seasons?  Four seasons, four topics.  Or into quarters some other way, simply dividing the calendar year into three-month sections?  Or keep it all together in one…  However you do it–the important thing is to be seeking understanding, growing in grace and knowledge, delighting in wisdom, and echoing with Peter “You have words of eternal life!”  

We do not separate wisdom, knowledge, and discernment–because the Holy Spirit gifts and grows us and leads us in this growth holistically.  Doctrine is not separate from Gospel. Separating means you walk away from Him and attempt to do it on your own.  

Goals can be Yearly, Quarterly, Weekly, Daily; concerning Reading. Studying. Memorizing. Meditating.  Sharing/fellowshipping.  Listening, sitting under good teaching and preaching.  Break these up into small goals, but build in the flexibility for life to change your goals up as needed.  Start small: 30 minutes of intentional study per week; or 30 minutes with a doctrinally rich book per week. Grow into 30 minutes, three times a week. Where will you find this time?

How will you build your library?  Commentaries?  Books on specific doctrines?  Do you have someone you can ask to make trusted recommendations?

Beloved, get to know the doctrines according to godliness; let those words fill you, let them dwell richly in you.  Abide in His words, and wonder at what the Word implanted will do!  We tremble at His word, rather than thinking we know it all.