His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life. 2 Peter 1:3 NIV
If God has provided everything we need for a godly life, why is it that some Christians never seem to grow? They never seem to have much joy or make any progress. Peter says that they’re “ineffective and unproductive” in their knowledge of Christ (1:8). Why is that?
If you want to grow in the Christian life, there are certain things you must do, certain things to pursue in the power of the Spirit, and “if you possess these qualities in increasing measure they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive” in your knowledge of the Lord (1:8).
You must “make every effort” (1:5) to pursue these things. Get into an active frame of mind. Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth. You cannot be passive. It’s no use saying, “Let go and let God.” That’s the opposite of what is being said here.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones has a helpful illustration from the world of farming:
“It is no use telling a man to farm if he does not have a farm. If he is without land, without the seed, and without the tools, nothing can be done. But all these are given to us, and therefore, having received them, we are asked to farm.”
Even then, our farming does not guarantee a harvest – God makes things grow. But the farmer is still involved. There is something for you to do, and if you do not do it, there will be no harvest.
Seven Virtues to Pursue
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control. To self-control, [add] perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV
Peter’s emphasis is on our effort to actively pursue these in the power of the Holy Spirit: Make every effort to add these things to your faith. Go after them. Make them your own. God has given you power, now stretch yourself out in the pursuit of these things.
1. Goodness (Moral excellence)
If you want to be a fruitful Christian, you need to grow in goodness. The sheer moral excellence of Jesus’ life compels us, and a reflection of that goodness in our lives will be compelling to others. So make every effort to grow in goodness.
How can you become more active in doing good to others?
2. Knowledge (Practical wisdom)
If you want to be a fruitful Christian, you need to grow in wisdom. This happens as the Word of God is learned, believed, applied, and obeyed. David said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 NIV). You will find direction, wisdom, and stability as you meditate on God’s Word.
Are you taking full advantage of the opportunities available to you for learning God’s Word?
3. Self-control (Controlling your passions instead of your passions controlling you)
Peter, the most impulsive man in the New Testament, and then a trusted apostle, wrote this. That’s growth! If that can happen for him, it can happen for you.
Where do you need to exercise more self-control? In your eating and drinking? In what you watch? In how much or how little you sleep? In what you spend? In your temper or your tongue?
4. Perseverance (Pressing on)
The impulsive person gives up easily. He is pushed around by what he feels. When the impulsive person gets fed up, he wants to give up. You need to grow out of that.
Where are you most tempted to give up today?
5. Godliness (A life that flows from a passion for God)
Worship refreshes your love for Christ. This love is the source of your love for other Christians and your love for the world.
What priority does worship and prayer have in your life? How is your love for Christ?
6. Brotherly kindness (A generous spirit toward other believers)
The person who is really useful to Christ is always asking, “How can I contribute to the lives of others?” This person is slow to think the worst, and quick to think the best of other believers.
Are you aware of a Christian in financial (or any other) need? Have you been thinking the worst of someone?
7. Love (God’s compassion for the world)
It is possible to be passionate about reaching the lost, yet critical of other Christians; or generous to other believers, yet heartless toward the lost. God doesn’t give you the choice.
Where can you demonstrate God’s compassion for lost people? Do you know someone who has never heard the “good news” of Jesus Christ?
Christian, make every effort to progress in these things. Go after them with all the energy you can muster. Make them yours. Add them to your faith.