Sunday, December 28, 2008

Verse of the week -- II Peter 1:5-8

Second Peter opens with a powerful challenge to its readers, but one that also gives the power to reach this goal. Verses five through eight say,

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. 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.



So fitting at this time of the year as many people look back and pass judgment on the year gone by and also look ahead in hopes of making the new year an even better one. We sometimes weigh our year based on health and fitness, home organization, the quality of relationships, the growth in our assets, or the progress in reaching lifelong goals. I can think of no better place to reach for a measuring stick than the Scriptures. And, this passage gives us plenty to work on, for a lifetime of growth.


Want to look back a year from now and say that you had an effective and productive year? You might want to check out the qualities in these verses, and elsewhere in Scripture, and start praying them into your life. As my pastor has often said in recent weeks, "You won't find them in your life perfectly, but increasingly so, if you are a true follower of Christ."


I have so much to say about these few short verses and would encourage you to read the surrounding ones as well. First, we should look back at what the "very reason" is that the first verse refers to. In the previous verses Peter talked about the grace, peace and divine power given us through knowledge of Him. He has rescued us from sin and saved us to His precious promises and we should not be able to keep ourselves from responding from every corner of our being.


Starting with our faith firmly rooted in Him, our every effort should seek to live a "good" life, as detailed in God's Word. Goodness is just a start though. If we only desire to be good, or want our children to be "good" kids, that remains a fairly shallow goal. Living virtuous, well-mannered lives may look good to others, but isn't always an evidence of a godly life. We need to continue building.


We must search for knowledge. Study His word, know Him more, grow in discernment. We should be lifelong learners at our Savior's feet. Daily quiet time with Him, absorbing teaching from mature, biblically-sound believers, constantly seeking a greater understanding.


Beyond knowledge, we take another step in our character, and surrender ourselves to Him. Not letting our self control us, but allowing Him to control our self. Daily surrender, self-denial. Gratefully His mercies are new each day, and we need to come each day with a new acclamation to Him as Lord of our life.


I think it is key that this is not a "one time, never to be thought of again, stick it on your shelf for fire insurance" type of decision. You have got to persevere. Never quitting, never backing down, always striving to bring our relationship with God to the next level. Persevering on the path to greater godliness. Again, not perfectly, but always increasing.


As God takes greater control and more influence in how we live our lives, we will love as no one else can love. He will love through us as only a Creator can. So many people I struggle to love, situations that I struggle to show love in, yet when I live by faith, knowledge in Him, and persevere to give Him control, He can love for me.


Then what? As we strive for these goals, set in place concrete ways to keep stepping along this path, and continue to see God grow these qualities in our soul, the promise at the end of these verses is for us, "they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our walk in Christ will not grow stagnant will not remain fruitless. It will flower up full of life that honors Him. We will grow more intimately acquainted with His ways and knowledge and continually add more faith, knowledge, self-control, and godliness to our offerings.


Thank you, Lord, for your great and precious promises!


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. 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.


~2 Peter 1:5-8~

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