“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. 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 1:5-8 ESV).
As Christians, we should all want to be effective, productive and fruitful. Sometimes it seems this type of life is difficult and possibly beyond our grasp. But Peter, in quite simple language, explains what this type of life is all about.
Our text above begins with “for this very reason”, keying off of what he had just written. As Peter opened his second letter he reminded his readers that God has given us everything necessary for living and for “godliness” – for growing and maturing as a Christian. He has already given us what we need.
Because he has so adequately supplied us through Jesus and his great promises, we then must do our part. We must “make every effort” to move on from our faith by adding other qualities to our faith: virtue (excellence), knowledge, self-control, steadfastness (perseverance), godliness, brotherly affection and love. It isn’t that we need only one of these, or a few, or even most of them – we need all of these qualities to be the Christian that God is looking for. Notice what Peter wrote: “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).
So, if we want to be an effective Christian, a fruitful Christian, this is what we need to do. As you look through the list, you realise that these are things we must work on. Knowledge only comes through reading and studying God’s word. Self-control doesn’t just happen – we have to work at. And the same could be said for the rest of these qualities including brotherly affection and love.
Notice also that this is not something that we “get” and then can sit back on our laurels. This qualities must be our and also must be “increasing” – we must continually grow in all of these areas!
But there are added benefits. If we don’t have these qualities we are “so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Peter 1:9). In other words, having these qualities is not an optional “extra” for the Christian but forms the core of his very being. These are the things that makes us God’s children. If we don’t have them we have forgotten that we were cleansed of our sins – in essence, we have forgotten what Jesus did for us on the cross.
But there is still more. “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). Did you get that? if we have these qualities we “will never fall”! Having these qualities keeps us faithful to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. We will then have an entrance into “the eternal kingdom” and be with Jesus for eternity.
Do we want to be effective and fruitful? Then work on these qualities that will enable us to grow as a Christian. If we want to serve God and spend our eternity with him, there really isn’t a choice!
Readings for next week:
27-30 June – time for catching up if we are behind in our readings
1 July – Jude