There are so many books out there these days claiming to have the key to a better spiritual life. But what does God's word have to say? The passage I read in 2 Peter this morning had a lot to say. Peter tells us: For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:8-ESV) Putting that into positive terms, in my desire to be effective and fruitful what qualities do I need to have and see increasing in my life? Let's take a look.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1: 5-7, ESV)
The starting place is faith. I love that Peter begins this passage reminding us that God has given us everything we need:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4) So how do we get faith? Paul tells us in Romans it comes by hearing the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17) Faith is a work of God.
Then we must add to our faith virtue. Webster's defines virtue as "morally good behavior or character." Here again, I am glad that God has given us everything we need for on my own I am not a very virtuous person-it is Christ in me. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
Next we must add knowledge. It is very important that we increase our knowledge. I see too many people these days who pick up all sorts of books to read while ignoring the one that God himself has given us. I try not to lay many guilt trips here on my blog, but what have you read today? Did you catch up on all the latest happenings on Facebook or twitter? I did too. But I also took time to open up God's word and read it for myself. Now I cannot toot my horn too loudly for I have neglected to do so many times this summer. While I do not agree with everything A.W. Tozer wrote, this is one of my favorite quotes: "The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian."
Now I need to supplement knowledge with self-control. Oh boy. There is one I would like to just skip over. But what is my goal here? "To keep from being ineffective or unfruitful in my knowledge of Jesus Christ." It is not enough just to obtain knowledge. I can know it is wrong to tell a lie, but if when confronted with as sticky situation I choose to lie instead of confess the truth what has that knowledge gained me? I cannot go on sinning and be fruitful in my walk with the Lord. Self-control.
I feel like I could just stop here, but there is still more that I need to supplement my faith with. Are you feeling as overwhelmed as I am at this point? Well, this is no time to run and hide...
Now is the time for steadfastness to be added to our list. Steadfastness: adherence to something to which one is bound by a pledge or duty (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) This brings to mind all of those verses with words like "stand firm." When the going gets tough we must remain steadfast in our faith; in our obedience to God who has called us, who has released us from the penalty of our sin at such great cost to his only Son.
We supplement steadfastness with godliness. But what exactly is godliness and how does it differ from being virtuous? I have often heard it means being like God, or like Christ. From my reading I am concluding that it is living in a way that is pleasing to God. (And we can only do that if we know God well enough to know what pleases him, which brings me right back to reading my Bible in order to know him more.)
To godliness we add brotherly affection and then love. That sounds so easy on the surface. Just look inside our churches today and you will see that brotherly affection seems to be missing unless you are someone that is easy to like. Have you ever heard someone say, "We are told to love them but I don't have to like them?" Hmmm, that is not what Peter is saying at all. When it comes to our brothers and sisters in the church we are to treat them with affection and love, not one over the other. How am I doing with that one who rubs me the wrong way from time to time? Those are not godly thoughts running through my head when I think of them! Oh thank the Lord that I do not have to find some well of emotion to bring about a change in my heart. In all of these things I can never will to be better at them, it is only as Christ lives in me, only as he works those changes within that I will be effective and fruitful. That is no excuse not to be actively pursuing them as I live each day. My walk with the Lord should be showing by the way these attributes are ever increasing in my life. If not, it is time for some serious evaluation.
Grace, Peace, and Mercy,
Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. -refrain from hymn written by Thomas O. Chisholm
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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