“These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”
It is easy to be a fault finder and be critical of other people and what they say and do. This is not just having a helpful judgment to discern a situation, but a critical spirit that is negative and condescending to other people all the time. It comes from bitterness and a desire to pull others down while trying to make ourselves look and feel better. It is lack of confidence in ourselves, due to our sin and failure and lack of love.
It goes along with the other sins in this verse, flattery and boasting. All these sins are about ourselves and the desire to put self first and build it up at the expense of other people. Selfishness is at the centre and that prime sin, pride.
It is all too easy o fall into the trap of these kinds of sins. It starts with doing and thinking wrong and then the conscience tries to placate itself by comparing ourselves with other people and boosting ourselves up while bringing others down. We might not do it in the open, or actually do or say anything, but it happens in the mind and effects our attitudes.
However we try to hide ourselves, our attitudes always come out, one way of another. They will eventually work themselves into our speaking and actions and others will see what we are like. We will see it too, and though hidden in the thoughts, we will be confronted with our bad attitudes and ugly mindset. We need to deal with ourselves before it become a problem for other people, or becomes a permanent way of functioning for us.
Grumbling and complaining breeds a negative atmosphere and can pull down the feelings of other people, so that everyone feels bad. The attitude spreads and people pick it up without realising it. Being so negative is detrimental to the social environment and leads to more and more complaining. It can only be stopped by confession and a turn around from the darkness of fault finding to the positivity of building people up rather than seeking to bring them down. What if the complaint is justified?
The sincere complaint is brought to the right source of the problem and dealt with. We can state our case and make our point, but the solution may not be in our hands to fix or change. We have to leave it, as we have tried to draw attention to the problem, but it is now not our responsibility. We have to leave the complaint with the source to sort out for themselves. This requires that we are courageous and open-minded and not just agitators who cause problems.
Flattery is simply insincerity, and a form of lying to get your own way. It also needs repentance and confession. Boasting is also ugly and the idea that we have anything good about ourselves outside of God, is foolish. We show lack of gratitude to the Lord for His gifts to us and just take them to ourselves and imagine they are ours to do what we like with. The remedy is to humble ourselves before Him and seek His help to over come this sin.
Our sins really do separately us from God and other people. Even if we are Christians, if we persist in our sin, we do not receive the blessing of the Lord, and another will receive it. Setting aside pride and self is very difficult and we need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us to be over comers in all these ways. He is gracious and kind and will persist with us until we conquer the sin that so easily besets us and we live God-honouring lives, for His glory and not our own.
“But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you that “In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.” These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves 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 to eternal life.”
Jude 1: 17-21
These character faults will become more prevalent in the last times, when the return of Christ becomes nearer. People will be all about themselves and what they can get, with little or no evidence of the restraining power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They will cause social problems and carry on their lives in the way that they think best, everyone walking in the light of their own eyes, with no regard for others.
Jude constrains us to build ourselves up in faith and not in worldly wisdom. We are to pray in the Spirit and say and do the words and action He would want us to do, to be discerning and full of the wisdom of God. Our identifying mark will be love, love for Jesus Christ and love for other people, putting others above ourselves and not thinking overly highly of ourselves. This is the antithesis of these sins of complaint and flattery and the underlying lack of gratefulness they betray.
“…and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh.”
We are to save those who are going astray by warning them of the punishment to come if they do not repent, and helping the weak to build up their faith in the Lord and turn away from their sin, and repent and change.
“Now to him who is able to keep them from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”