Jude - Fourth in a series
The opening of Jude's letter finishes with these words: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. (Jude 1:2)
Love and peace are among the first gifts of the Spirit enumerated by Paul: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness… (Gal 5:22,23) Each of us knows experientially that we cannot love from the heart nor be free of anxiety and worry except by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Mercy, however, is God's encompassing salvation for man (in the sense of all people, women included).
When Paul wrote to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and other groups, he bid them grace and peace, (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:2) but when he wrote to Timothy and Titus, his own sons in the faith, he went further, to include mercy with grace and peace. (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4) He wanted his special sons in Christ to be drawn to reflect on their root need of Christ. They were likely to come under the same intense trials he himself had known. They would never survive without crying out for God's mercy.
Paul wished for Philemon God's grace and peace (Philemon 1:3) Philemon was not a close son even though Paul stated he owed him his life, that is, his salvation.
As Peter wrote to fellow believers in various places, he wished them grace and peace (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2) with the mention of mercy not far behind (1 Pet 1:3) and the need to make your calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10) urged, for he warned about false prophets in the church.
When the apostle John wrote to warn about deceivers, he wrote from his heart, "Grace be with you, mercy and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ…" (2 John 1:3) Mercy for lambs can protect them from wolves.
Therefore, when Jude's greeting includes mercy, we know he is reaching out to brothers and sisters in dangerous circumstances. There were and are powers that can only be confronted with God's merciful help, not by might, (Zech 4:6) and we sheep are not good at self preservation in any sense.
What is the difference between grace and mercy? A good expression of grace is in 2 Corinthians: God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. 2 Cor 5:19a Grace is God's good will and favor toward men. Mercy shifts the focus to our helpless state. It is good will toward destitute, imperiled and afflicted people. We welcome God's grace, but we cry out for his mercy.
We should enter into Jude's arena where evil men are spotlighted and exposed, realizing we, too, are susceptible to their designs. Christ alone can protect us, and he will, but we should stop to reflect on our helpless state without Him. We need God's mercy.