2 Peter 1:3-11New International Version (NIV)
Confirming One’s Calling and Election
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 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. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We have been given everything to live a Godly life. How awesome is that?! We can participate in His divine nature and escape the corruption caused by evil desire. I don’t know about you but I find this exciting. These promises aren’t given all at once. They are developed over time with increasing measure. And we have to do our part.
I don’t want to live a life that is ineffective and unproductive. I want to receive the rich welcome into the kingdom of heaven. I know that my salvation is based on Grace, not works. But once Grace takes over, fundamental changes to our lives should become evident (took a long time for me, but I got there eventually).
Getting to the place of effectiveness for Christ isn’t easy. The first rung of this ladder isn’t easy. We are to add to our faith goodness. GOODNESS. I’d love to add a heaping helping of goodness to my life every day, but sometimes my last nerve is frayed and my brain is in overload and I it takes everything I have just to breath without breaking. How can I add something I barely possess to a faith that is sometimes in flux?
Next comes knowledge. On the surface, this one seems easier for me. I can quote memorized verses and other data from the Bible. However, I think the knowledge this verse is talking about is a little deeper than that. I think this is the deep philosophical knowing that moves mountains with faith as small as a mustard seed. It’s the “You know that you know that you know” knowing that isn’t about quoting scripture, but completeness in Christ.
Now we are to add self-control. As my ever fluctuating waistline can attest, this is one part of the fruit of the spirit that I find elusive. Old patterns of sloth and gluttony are so much easier than the new ones of exercise and diet. Quieting my mouth from outbursts of hurtful anger and “inbursts” of overeating are challenges I face daily. Not to mention all the other facets of daily life that require self-control. This rung of the ladder is quite a stretch for me, and we aren’t even half way up!
Perseverance, another thorn in my side, is next. Having the gumption to follow through, run the race, keep on keeping on, or whatever metaphor pleases your sensibilities is difficult. In this world, we are often given every easy out imaginable. People make excuses for not finishing all the time. “It just wasn’t for me”. “He isn’t the man I married anymore”. “It’s too hard”. “You don’t understand”. “There is a faster, better, or easier way”. There will be a time that you want to quit every good thing you ever start. There will be a time when you think the practice will never pay off. But God calls us to a higher standard, he wants us to preserve and not give up.
By this time, the ladder has reached a dizzying height. We are to add Godliness to this list. Godliness requires honest and accurate assessments of who we are in Christ. Our value in this world is established by God, not man. We can’t look at ourselves as less than worthy and say we possess godliness. This means that all our insecurity, doubt, and feelings of inferiority must exit our body. Godliness demands authenticity.
Each step we take gets a little closer to our ultimate goal, but the rungs on this latter seem to be spaced so far apart now. How can we reach our goal of a Godly life? With faith that has been strengthened with goodness, goodness that possesses knowledge, knowledge that is built in self-control, self-control that perseveres, and perseverance that reflects Godliness. We aren’t even to the top of the ladder and I’m feeling a tad unsteady at this heady height. Good thing the spirit is strengthening me on this climb.
To Godliness we add mutual affection. Physical touch is NOT my love language and when I hear the word affection, I automatically think of physical touch. The dictionary defines affection as fond attachment or love, no mention of physical touch. But, if I want to express affection to someone whose love language is physical touch, I am going to need to put aside my selfishness and reach out to them. I need to respond to those around me in a way they are comfortable, not within the boundaries of my comfort zone. Mutual affection means listening, learning, and leaning on others. It’s a broad plank on this ladder that draws me away from my niche and towards other people. Its beauty in motion and love in action.
Finally, we reach the last plank: Love! So much is written in the bible about love. This one seems like it would be easy to do. But I believe that this love is more than just a gooey feeling you get when you look into the eyes of your significant other. This love is a decision. It is deciding to stay when you want to go. Its seeing your spouse or friend or family member at their worse and choosing to stick by them even when it hurts you. Its living each day boldly knowing that others might hurt you, but loving them anyway. It is being Jesus with skin on to a desperate world. That’s the kind of “rubber meets the road” love I believe we are to exhibit. A love that surpasses all understanding and causes people to sit up and take notice. And when they take notice, I hope they see all of Christ and none of me.
Living a Godly life is possible even in this fallen world. The bible lays out a step by step method for productivity and effectiveness, but it requires more than just wishful thinking on our part. We must actively pursue a Godly life with all that we are. It sounds like the most exhilarating and exciting challenge I can imagine!
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.