Why so much effort?
From his morning devotional study: David Niednagel, Pastor and Teacher, Evansville, IN. David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning study time: study, observe, apply, pray.
2 Peter 1:5-11
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. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ESV
At some point we all get tired and want to rest. Sometimes that is ok, and other times it is not. In America we are so used to labor savings devices that as a nation, we are very weak in the area of perseverance. Peter is aware that it is most difficult to keep going after any goal that is farther away. We can’t see it clearly, and whatever reward is so far out that we naturally spend more effort on issues that give immediate reward.
In the previous verses Peter spoke of our valuable faith, and the great and precious promises that say we inherit the divine nature even now. That does not mean that we become God, but it does mean that the presence of God is within us, and that is more valuable than the best stocks on the market.
Instead of saying we should just be thankful for the promises, Peter exhorts that we make every effort to add character qualities that display that divine nature. If God lives in us, then the benefits begin now, and not just in heaven sometime in the future. The Holy Spirit will help us manifest “virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love – but not automatically. Spiritual growth takes our participation, and effort! We have to read slowly and carefully, think deeply about how our lives measure up to what God can do, and cooperate with Him. We can’t make excuses that everybody else struggles with the same things, so it is ok if we aren’t “perfect”. We must confess our sins to one another, pray for one another, help one another repent, change and grow in very specific areas. We must not allow ourselves, or other Christians be “ineffective, unfruitful or blind” to our present lives and our eternal situation. But even though we should not avoid those tough talks, we do. Change/growth is not easy, and we don’t like anyone pushing us, so we all avoid unpleasant evaluation and honesty. So, what is the answer? Instead of hiding and avoiding, if we focus on the blessings of God’s favor, now and forever, we will want it, and can ask one another to help us, instead of avoiding facing our weakness and failure.
Without those Christ-like qualities, Peter says we cannot have assurance of our salvation. He certainly is not saying we earn our salvation by good works, but he does clearly say that if Christ is in us there will be manifestation of His presence.
Lord, thank You for Your promises, and Your presence. Help me claim those promises and put myself in places where my own resources are not enough and where Your presence will be clearly manifest. I don’t like to be that desperate, but I sure like it when I experience Your love, grace, courage, endurance, etc. I sure don’t want to be ineffective or unfruitful when I could experience Your life and power through me. Help me be fully available and committed to You every day. Amen