I love a good list. I don’t what type of person you are or how you like to organise yourself but I find that there is a certain satisfaction in making a list of all the “to dos” that are on my mind and then getting to, one by one, cross them off my list as they are completed. Helen and I have been fitting a new kitchen in our flat the last few weeks and we have one more thing on our list and believe me I am itching to cross it off and feel that satisfaction of completing the work! But imagine this, that you had a list with an item that you could actively strive for and work towards however could never be completely achieved and would have to stay on your list indefinitely, never being crossed off. I can actually feel my anxiety levels rise as I write this (that may be a little exposing on the type of person I am!).
After my 2-week hiatus I am really excited to be writing this blog as we return to 2Peter1:3-11. Today we finish off the section we have been focusing on in verses 5-8;
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 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.
On the pursuit to learn how Peter is teaching us to be effective and fruitful in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have thought about “faith” and then adding to that “virtue”, “knowledge”, “self-control”, “steadfastness”, “godliness”, “brotherly affection” and finally in v7, “love”.
However, do you notice how Peter precedes this epic list qualities, “for if these qualities are your and are increasing, they will keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Peter has effectively written 8 items onto our “to do” list that say “increase in this quality”. For someone like me who loves to tick off what I have achieved this is an extremely uncomfortable piece of Scripture! Saying that, let me give three short reflections that I hope will move you to pray this morning;
- What are we supposed to do?
Not settle. In verse 9 Peter goes on to say that when we stop looking to be more faithful, virtuous, knowledgeable, self-controlled, steadfast, godly, affectionate and loving, we are forgetting that from which God saved us from by the precious blood of His Son Jesus. Because to settle with not striving to increase in these qualities is to fail to recognise that they are for our good and the good of everyone around us, it is to fail to recognise that God wants us to be more like Jesus because it’s a good thing. Pray that God will help you keep striving!
- How are we to go about doing it?
With effort. I am sorry that there isn’t an easy get out here. Peter makes it clear in verse 5 that we are to “make every effort” to attain these qualities and it is going to be hard work for us. It is undoubtedly true and important that we are not alone in this, God has given us power and strength in Himself as He indwells in us through the Holy Spirit and we are to ask continuously for His help. God has also given us the community of the Church family for support and spurring on in this endeavour by both encouragement and discipline when appropriate. Having said this, there is still great responsibility on each one of us to put in the effort required so pray that God will help us put in the effort needed!
- Why are we even trying?
Jesus. This is one of the times where I think a one-word answer is appropriate. Peter tells us that these qualities are what is going to make us effective and fruitful in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus. So we don’t settle, and put in the effort because we want others to know the same love and mercy of Jesus that we have known and we want to do it as well as we possibly can. And check this in verse 11, for those who are prepared to be obedient to God in these ways He promises a rich entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Pray that God will help us know and trust in this great promise!