In boxing, a challenger for the title with potential to win is called a contender. They enter the ring to battle for the championship. The word is used in other sports as well, describing teams good enough to vie for the championship. It is even used to describe competitors in business.
The book of Jude uses the word as well. We are told to contend for the faith. One way we do this is by watching out for each other. Jude 1:21 says “keep yourselves in God’s love” or “watch over yourselves in God’s love.” Then Jude gives some specific ways to care for each other. Verse 22 says “Be merciful to those who doubt.” (NIV)
Two words provide the meaning to this verse. First is the word doubt. It describes one who hesitates or is uncertain. Many followers of Jesus have a few doubts or are uncertain about some items of the faith. How do we treat them?
Well, the second word shows the way. It is translated “be merciful.” It can also mean “to be kind” and “to assist.” It is the word used of God’s action toward us. His mercy assisted us by providing Jesus to secure our forgiveness. So, we too must be kind to those followers with doubts. We must assist them to answer their questions and strengthen the certainty of their faith. This is one way to contend for the faith once for all delivered to us.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.