I read this one today and loved it! What a great reminder that I already have ALL that I need to live a powerful life for His Glory ... and what better life could there be?
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. --2 Peter 2:5-7
In the passage before this one is an amazing idea. Peter told us that we have everything we need right now for “life and godliness.” We don’t have to wait. We’re not missing any pieces to be everything God wants us to be. He has made us alive and given us access to all His power. Sin can’t stop us.
Today’s passage is the first part and it starts with “make every effort.” In other words, it’s time to get to work. God gave us this “access to the divine nature,” this spiritual power, as a gift. Our effort didn’t earn it for us. We didn’t work for it. But now, Peter says, it’s time for us to work with it.
Imagine if Superman never flew. Or ran faster than a speeding bullet. Or jumped higher than the tallest building. What a waste of power!
Peter next describes how to make the best use of ours -- by adding to our faith in God the following qualities one on top of the other.
Add to your faith . . .
GOODNESS: Because I have faith in God -- because I trust Him -- I need to add goodness, the desire to do the right things and not the wrong things. That’s what a good person is like, right? We can be good people with the power God has given to us in Jesus.
KNOWLEDGE: But just wanting to do the right thing isn’t enough. I need to know the right things to do. I need knowledge of God’s standard for right and wrong. It’s all right there in the Bible in front of you (or on your computer), but it’s going to take work to get it off those pages and into your head and actions.
SELF CONTROL: Wanting to do good and then figuring out what is good -- that’s a great start. But it’s not worth as much if you can’t make yourself do it. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that doing good doesn’t come naturally. Peter says I have to work on my self-control -- overcoming my tendency to stop doing hard good things or to start doing easy bad things.
PERSERVERENCE: Self-control + time = perseverance. The 400-meter runner’s body tells him to stop. He exercises self-control for a minute or two, ignoring his body’s impulse, to complete the race. The marathon runner’s body tells him to stop. He ignores that message for hours. We can do the same in choosing to do good. That’s perseverance.
GODLINESS: Our God is good, knows the good to do, and exercises self-control in getting the good done. All the time. Godliness turns a week’s worth of good intentions into a lifelong commitment to using our power for God's good. It’s what we become known for as “imitators of God.”
BROTHERLY KINDNESS: Now it’s time for me to work to focus that goodness on other people. I’ve got two brothers. They can expect that I’ll be there for them in a way I wouldn’t necessarily be available to "just a friend." Peter says I have the power to treat everyone as a brother, to give away my time and energy and money to help those in need.
LOVE: Now we’ve reached the top of the pyramid. It’s one thing to sacrifice an afternoon to help out a brother. It’s another to sacrifice my life -- my agenda, my rights, my personal space -- to give myself away heart and soul to those God brings me into deep relationship with. This is the way God loved me in sacrificing His Son to buy me back from death. I can’t love like this without His power in me. With it, I can work toward loving that way. And it will be work.
This list isn’t just a good way to live. It’s not just some rules for Christians. Peter makes it clear: If you are in Christ, this is who you are destined to be. It’s the life you were meant for.
You have to participate in this process, though. You have to organize your life to keep building on these qualities. But God will give you the power to be this person.
Why not try it? Go ahead. Step on the gas.