Okay . . . honestly I’m a little unsure about that title. While it’s catchy and perhaps an appropriate play on words given what I’m chewing on this morning, the cultural idea of being “kept” is kind of shady. A “kept woman”, or “kept man” for that matter, is someone granted a certain lifestyle in exchange for certain “favors.” But the word “kept” is the word that’s in my Bible. And, not just in my ESV translation, but in every translation I referenced other than the KJV where it’s translated “preserved.” So, call me a bit of a risk taker, but I’m staying with the title, . . . and the thought, . . . and, I submit, with biblical language. This morning I’m noodling on the blessing of being a kept man.
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
(Jude 1-2 ESV)
Sometimes, when overwhelmed by the way things are, it’s prudent to pause, be still, and remember who you are. And this morning I’m taking such a pause, reflecting on the declaration of God’s word that I am called, beloved, and kept.
Called. Chosen in God the Son “before the foundation of the world”, that I “should be holy and blameless” before God the Father (Eph. 1:3-4). Not because of anything I would ever be and despite everything I would eventually do. But just because God, in His Sovereign purposes, determined to move in this sinner’s hard heart and redeem him through overflowing grace. Pause. Reflect. Worship.
Beloved in God the Father. Loved to the uttermost by the Creator. Sacrificially loved, as the Father sent His one and only Son to earth as a Lamb. A Lamb offered up once for all in payment for the debt of sin I could never pay. Wholly loved, as my rescue came also with an adoption, being made more than just a freed slave from sin, but brought into His house as a child of God and a joint heir with Christ. Patiently loved, as I stumble through the work He has begun in me, being transformed increasingly into the likeness of the Son while I battle daily with the flesh. A slow process to be sure. But the love of God has determined that I should be a child of God and so I am, and so shall I be.
Called. Beloved. But it’s the thought of being kept that so captures this sinner’s saved heart.
Depending on the translation you’re reading, those who are called and beloved are either kept for Jesus Christ or kept by Jesus Christ. Both are true. But while the idea that I am being preserved by Christ evokes thanksgiving, to think that such divine effort would be made to carefully guard the new life I’ve been given for Christ lights up the awe-o-meter.
Mercy would rescue me and ensure my passage to a promised land. But it’s a love that I can’t fathom which would have a God who is all-sufficient in Himself desire me for Himself.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” ~ Jesus
(John 17:24 ESV)
Kept for Jesus. That having be given to Him we would one day be with Him. Not that He needs us, but that He wants us. Not that we deserve Him, but that He desires us. Trophies of grace for His glory. Children through adoption for His delight.
I’m a kept man. Kept by Jesus. Kept for Jesus.
Kept in His steadfast, unfailing love. Kept by the Spirit, the power of God and the seal guaranteeing the promise.
Kept by His grace. Kept for His glory.