“For this reason, make every effort…” 2 Peter 1:5
I’m not Aladdin and God is not a genie that I can rub the jar and he just poofs whatever I want. God is God, the God above all gods, the One True God, the Almighty, the I AM. I can’t fully or even most partially really explain You God. I can’t really grasp the fullness of Your Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. I do know that the apostle John said, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” And I know that the “word” he was speaking about is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is also more than a son, and who is somehow God as well. I also know that Jesus Christ said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the Father but by me.” I also know that when I put my trust in Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life; in other words, the way to a relationship in fullness with God again, that Jesus, by the power of God vested in Him, deposits His Holy Spirit in me to teach me and to enable me to do the will of God. As a matter of fact, He even gives me the desire to do the will of God.
That’s a little nut-shell of it all. But I don’t get to just lay back and continue life as usual. I can’t be a couch potato Christian. I can’t sit on my duff (my bum, my rear end) and do nothing and expect the Holy Spirit to poof me into some super believer or any kind of a real believer. That’s like burying my money in a can in the ground instead of at least putting it in the bank to earn a little interest. A faith not invested in by me will have as little growth as the money buried in the ground. I am expected to do my part to build the “good deposit entrusted” to me. (2 Timothy 1:14)
I’m not left on my own to do it. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3,4) Sometimes, I don’t feel like a partaker. I want to feel like that, but sometimes, the feeling evades me. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’ve escaped the corruption. But the truth is, the full escape, the full partaking isn’t finished, isn’t completed here. That will be the day I am with the Lord. But His promises still hold true for now, and they don’t get to be determined by my feelings. No matter how I feel, His promises are greater, and only by clinging to them with all of my life and not letting go will I understand the fullness of His promises. Yes, You have made wonderful promises to me, but I must fulfil my part. My part is to hang tight and continue in those promises. My part is to walk in that belief. After all, I’m a believer, right? I ought to live like one then.
Peter says, “For this 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.” In other words, because God has placed a deposit in us, through His Son Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to work these things into our lives that He enables us for. They aren’t easy. Look at all the stories online about leaders in the church turning from their faith. All of a sudden the hard stuff isn’t making sense? Is it hitting too close to home? When the hard stuff doesn’t effect me, is it easier to have faith? When did God not promise these hard things would come in our lives? Jesus warned us already. It’s not a surprise. All I have to do is look into Your word, and it explains the nature of every evil. It also tells me how to deal with it, how to respond. Faith is choosing to respond according to Your word, according to You and trusting that You, despite the present evil, have already mapped out the good ending for us with You. There is purpose in the pain even when I don’t see it.
So if faith is believing, and that is part of the deposit, another deposit is virtue or excellence. My responses should come out in a way that reflect Your excellence. I wasn’t created to respond with mediocre faith, or to be “wishy-washy.” Excellence is the deposit because God is excellent. As Joyce Meyer says, “when I drop some item on the floor at a store, I pick it up; I don’t leave it there. I even go the extra mile and pick up the other things other people have dropped and left behind. I don’t just do for the sake of doing; I do for the sake of glorifying You. I give it my best and ask God’s Holy Spirit to help me to do even better for His sake so what people see is Him in my life.”
I add knowledge. What does that mean. How do I practice knowledge? How do I increase it? I read and study Your word. I apply it. I meditate on it. I talk to others about it who are practicing their deposit. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand and apply it. I make sure I’m not interpreting according to my heart but according to Your intent. I read it, I meditate on it, I do it, and I make it a part of my life. Now, I can share it with others.
Temperance is another word for self-control. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like doing something. Or maybe I do feel like doing something, but it’s not the excellent thing I should. You have deposited in me self-control. I can control my eating. I can control my words. I can control my foot on the gas pedal. I can treat others with respect. I can take time to really listen to the needs of others. I can refrain from acting on my anger. I can forgive. I can because God has placed that deposit in me. Yes, it may be hard. It may take time on my part. It will take prayer and discipline. And it will take wanting to love God as much as He loves me. If I remember my faith and the precious promises of God, if I practice Your excellence, and think on You continually, I will be able to exert self-control over any area of my life that “haunts” me whether it be compulsive eating or to the extreme of pornography. I will take the steps I need to take. I will forcefully resist and flee from the one who is trying to devour me, into the arms of the One who loves me and cares for me.
I love this one, cheerful endurance or patience. Imagine, I have a deposit in me of cheerful endurance. Oh, anyone can endure pain and discomfort. But who can endure it cheerfully? Because of You, I can. But am I? Am I forgetting everything else You have deposited in me and setting it all aside to complain and murmur and meditate on the pain or sorrow? That’s self-defeating. But if I draw closer to You and Your promises and Your word, I can endure with hope, not despair. I can walk to the stake to be burned and know You will be with me and I will be with You soon. I can survive the cancer even if I lose my life. I can be free from bitterness because I can forgive even in the most terrible of circumstances like Cory Ten Boom.
Another deposit is godliness. The original Greek word came to mean “a respectful attitude toward God directly and the living of a correct lifestyle in respect to Him.” (www.studylight.org) Maybe I should think about what a really respectful attitude toward God looks like? I mean, I wonder if my idea of respect and Your idea are far different from each other? How often do I take off my shoes because I realize I’m standing on holy ground, so to speak? How often do I treat You too familiarly? If I corrected my attitude toward You, then my lifestyle would correct itself as well.
How true and dear is my brother love? I mean, is it like that of a dysfunctional family? Or is it like that of real brothers, who take care of each other no matter the cost? Does it reflect the brotherly love that You, Jesus, show to us? Or is it a mere reflection of some form of man’s brotherly love? There’s a big difference. One comes naturally and easy. The deposit, takes tending and nurturing. It’s not natural, but it’s of so much deeper value for all involved.
And then there is something deeper than brotherly love, there is agape love.. Agape love is at the heart of the nature of God. If you want to know what God is like, this is at the center of His being. You love, not because I’m loveable by nature, not because I’m excellent or deserving, but because it’s Your nature and it’s who You are. Your love flows out to me despite my unloveliness! This is love that is acted out, demonstrated. It’s the kind of love that even though we were “dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:5) This kind of love doesn’t come naturally. It’s “goodwill, benevolence, and wilful delight in the object of love” (gotanswers.org) despite our friendship, or standing, or loveliness or likeableness. It’s full of giving. It’s full of sacrifice and selflessness. Face it, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Jesus wasn’t drawn to me because of my attractiveness to Him. He was drawn to me by His love for us. So much so that He gave up His glory and even His life for us to see and experience the depth of His love as He purchased us back, we who had sold ourselves into slavery. Www.ezion.com shares this definition, “Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not.” If You love me like that Lord, and You do, am I loving others like that?
Why does all of this or any of this matter? “For if these qualities (the same qualities that Jesus exhibits to us) are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” 2 Peter 1:8,9) I want to be effective, not ineffective. I want to be fruitful, not unfruitful. I want to really know You, not be aloof. I want to walk with vision, not blindness. I want these qualities to be mine because they are Yours and I am in You and You are in me. I want these qualities to be “proof of the pudding.” And I want them to increase because I will always have room for growth to become more and more like You each day. I will do my part at working on this so that You can fulfil Your part. I am so grateful for Peter’s reminder. May these qualities be established in me. I don’t just want to know them. I want them to be a part of me, from the essence of me, just as they are in You.