…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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9 NIV)
Faith in Jesus Christ gives us access to the Kingdom of Heaven. And then what?
Peter reminds us that if we want to be effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus, we’ve got building to do.
Faith is the firm foundation, but not our end goal.
As I reflected on this list, I noticed that love comes last. Interesting. Love seems to be the horn tooted by the world, and the Church, these days. It all comes down to love…love is the answer to every problem in the world, and to love is to accept everyone and everything.
But what if we are being called to build and develop love after goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and mutual affection. Does the order matter? I would like to propose that yes, it does.
Add to faith goodness. Add to goodness knowledge. Add to knowledge self-control…
So let’s start at the beginning. What is goodness? Moral excellence and virtue come to mind.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)
God tells us what goodness lived out looks like: acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with Him. How’s our goodness growing?
After developing goodness, build knowledge. Right here we can now see that our knowledge will be situated in an understanding of how God designed the world to work, and what He calls good.
The world will tell you that knowledge is power, but knowledge needs to be reigned in or it will be lost in diverse teachings that are birthed by human minds rather than God’s.
After knowledge, build self-control. Aha, we have gained knowledge, we have expanded our understanding, now is the perfect time to practice self-control. Why?
Because with increased knowledge comes the temptation to stray from Truth.
Self-control is saying no to the passions and lusts that call us away from what we know is right, what we know is of God.
After self-control, build perseverance. Self-control can suck, denying ourselves can feel like a loathsome chore. But persevere! Knowing that the choice to persevere produces character, and character produces hope…and hope does not disappoint us!
Missing out on an indulgence may disappoint momentarily, but hope in our future glory, spending eternity with Jesus, will never disappoint us.
Add to perseverance godliness. Okay, so we’ve endured the hard stuff. It’s built our character, I think we are well on the way to living godly lives.
Perfection isn’t expected on this side of eternity, but growing in godliness or becoming more and more sanctified, is.
We were created in God’s image, and once born again we have access to the Spirit who teaches and guides us to ultimately become more and more Christ-like, more and more godly. It’s an active choice and a blessed choice.
To be godly is to be set apart.
It’s saying no to things that aren’t of God–sin of every sort. It’s having a similar disgust for sin as God does. Disgust. Hate. Yes, God hates sin. And we are told to be growing in godliness.
Finally, after working on all these other aspects of our hearts, we can now look at relationships outward.
From a place of developed godliness we can grow in mutual affection.
Why is this important?
- Mutual affection needs to understand boundaries, or it runs the risk of being blind-sided by sin, ignorance, and lust-filled desires.
- Affection that comes from godliness can look deeper than surface-level interests.
- It can escape the realm of selfish motives because it’s been processed in the fires of self-control.
From developed mutual affection, we can reach the destination of love.
The end goal. The pursuit that lines us up with truth-based, sacrificial, complete love. Not the love that the world chases after.
- Love that comes from God, that was designed by God.
- Love that’s blessed, that multiplies rather than divides.
- Love that endures.
Possessing these qualities, in increasing measure will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our faiths.
Since we will all give an account before God, this still seems significant. Yes, as Christians we will not be judged, having passed from judgement into life through Jesus’s blood, but we will still give an account. And it will likely sound something like this, “What have you done with My Name?”
Are we content to make it to heaven by the seat of our flaming pants, or do we long to bring heaven to earth here and now, advancing the gospel message and transforming the world as we ourselves are continually being transformed?
It’s a beautiful calling. A blessed life.
But not one without intentional, determined steps towards God’s heart for His people.
Dear Friends — Here is the call:
- Let’s lay down the idolatrous pursuit of a love that hasn’t been refined in the furnace of godly growth
- Let’s devote ourselves to the pursuit of sanctification
The world needs the message of Jesus in all it’s truth and all it’s power, but we aren’t going to be effective when our lights are dimmed, drowned out by being too closely conformed to the world.