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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 peter 1:5-7
The Christian life is not some inert situation. Faith, as Peter reflects, is a doorway to a whole new way of existing, no, more than existing, truly living. In this passage, which has echoes of Paul’s “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23) we see that we have a responsibility in this new life to build our spiritual muscles. By God’s “divine power’ there are steps we can take to me more Christlike and productive in the kingdom.
The first after faith is
- goodness or excellence: this describes the expectation that the character of Christ now grows in the person of faith,
- then the next is knowledge or wisdom, the ability to distinguish good from bad – especially important at the time of writing as false teachers were having an impact. This is an importance that is not diminished today.
- The third is self control. This is the ability to have authority over our sinful nature. Some believed if they were saved they could do anything they liked. Peter stresses that the child of God reflects a control over their actions rather than abandonment to their desires.
- That in turn enables endurance – the mature Christian is resolute and determined to maintain this new life,
- and exude a godliness – a way of living that shows reverence to God and a right attitude to those around him –
- mutual affection or brotherly love. As John writes, how can a person love God and hate his brother (1 John 4:20)? The two are inseparably linked.
- These all culminate in the fulfilment of the law – love. Our lives are to be witnesses to Christ’s agape – sacrificial – love. This is the love for the lives and souls of people around us that empowers the mission of the church.
Above are three short verses we can all spend a life time in practising and the more we do, the more we will see Christ.