By Kelly Carr
These seem like the happier, gentler traits on the list, don’t they? Love and mutual affection certainly seem more appealing than last week’s look at perseverance and self-control. However, it’s been the journey through the others that can bring us to these heart qualities.
In Increasing Measure
It’s interesting to investigate the order of Peter’s list of attributes in verses 5-7. I’m sure Peter was inspired by God to craft the list in this specific way. He said each trait should be added to the previous item: start with faith and add goodness, then knowledge, then self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and finally love.
Of course we don’t become perfect at one before reaching to attain the next. Peter said to “possess these qualities in increasing measure.” We will always keep growing in them.
But consider: when we begin our faith, we strive to be good. And we don’t just want to be good but we want to learn more about the God who calls us to be good; we want to seek his truth, thereby growing in knowledge. In gaining that knowledge we learn strategies to control our human tendencies that succumb to temptation. And through this self-control we find that we’ve gained strength to persevere when trials come.
Perhaps it’s only at this point of self-control and perseverance that we are humbled enough to seek godliness, learning to see the world through God’s eyes and acting accordingly. Only by seeking his perspective can we hope to offer mutual affection to all of his people, no matter how different they are from us. And only then can we comprehend the true meaning of love and offer sacrificial love to God and others.
Everything We Need
I like looking closely at this list and considering how God uses each quality to prepare our hearts for the next. He knows our development and our weaknesses. He knows we won’t be perfect overnight. But he is willing to invest the time, molding us slowly, painstakingly, as a work of art in his hands.
It involves our participation—twice in verses 5-11 Peter said to “make every effort.” Yet we are not left to endeavor alone. God initiated this relationship, and he provides the tools to grow with him. As Peter stated in verse 3: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.”
Now that’s the kind of instructor I like: I’m given an assignment in this calling from God, but he has given me all the instruments I need to finish the task. When I take on a project, especially one that requires my skills and creative input, I like to know I’m well-prepared. Then I have confidence that it can actually be done. Otherwise I feel overwhelmed and want to give up.
I’ll admit: at the beginning of this series, I skimmed 2 Peter 1:1-11 and felt a bit overwhelmed. How can we all be expected to grow in so many specific areas of our spiritual lives? But when I slow down and look at one quality at a time, I am assured that God has the intent of creating a beautiful masterpiece when all the parts come together.
So I am feeling more confident. I am placing my trust in the creator. And I am ready to make every effort to be more like him.