2 Peter 1
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For 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. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (2 Peter 1:3-9, NIV)
The Daily DAVEotional
Have you ever wondered why some people who have been Christians for a long time never seem to get past the initial stages of Christian development? Perhaps you count yourself in this group. Maybe you’ve been a consistent church-goer for years and even attended the occasional small group, but you’ve never felt like you were really progressing as a Christian.
I think a lot of people get to this point and begin to wonder if there isn’t something more to the Christian life. Some who are discontented may half-heartedly trudge along in their Christian experience, while others choose to walk away, assuming that their spiritual “experiment” was just a phase.
In this passage of 2 Peter, the author (Peter) gives the reason why people are not growing and developing in their spiritual lives.
But first notice that in verses 3-4, Peter tells his audience that God has already given them everything they need to live the Christian life and experience godliness. There’s no special enlightenment or advanced teaching a person needs in order to experience the Christian life as it was meant. This means that no matter where you are at, whether you are brand new in the faith or if you’ve been a believer for many years, you already possess everything you need to experience all Christ wants for you.
What is it that Christ wants for you?
Starting in verse 5, Peter reels off a list of virtues that we’re to add to our character. It’s easy to look at this list and get overwhelmed, thinking there is a lot of pressure to manufacture these qualities in our lives. But don’t get overwhelmed. In fact, I want you to take a deep breath as we look at this list a bit differently than maybe you’ve looked at it before.
What is the starting point of the list?
If you’re a Christian, you already have faith, so you’re good. All believers start with a basic faith in God and Jesus.
What is the ending point of the list?
The goal of all Christian growth is to learn to love God and others more deeply and effectively. Everything in between Faith and Love in this list is simply a process of growing character qualities that helps us to become more loving people.
In verse 8, Peter says that if you possess these qualities and they are increasing (i.e. you’re growing in them or developing them in your life), you’ll be productive and effective in your knowledge of the Lord.
In other words, if you’re growing in these character qualities, you’ll become a more loving person towards God and others and you’ll therefore have the kind of influence and impact God desires for you. You won’t be stagnant or ineffective and you won’t be wondering, as so many immature Christians do, why the Christian life is not as exciting and adventurous as you thought it would be when you first came to Christ.
So why is it that some people never grow?
Peter addresses this in verse 9. He says that the person who is lacking these qualities, the person who is not growing in these character qualities and not becoming a more loving person, is near-sighted and blind. Peter then explains that what makes them near-sighted and blind is that they have forgotten that they’ve been cleansed from their past sins.
The reason so many Christians aren’t experiencing growth is sin!
I’m sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping for or expecting something more profound. But it really is that simple.
Look, we all sin, even the most mature believers. Sin is simply a thought, a word or action that is in rebellion toward God and His values. When we sin, we are choosing to go our own way, and as a result, we are disconnecting ourselves from God, who is the source of spiritual life. The moment any living thing becomes disconnected from its life source, it begins to experience decay.
The person who is growing is the person who, when they do sin, always remembers that Jesus has died for that sin and has paid for that sin. The person who is consistently growing remembers what Jesus has done for them and whenever they sin, they take that sin to the cross, claiming the forgiveness that Jesus has already provided and repenting in their heart for their thoughts, words or actions.
The biblical term for this process is confession. By actively confessing sin whenever you are aware of it, you’re admitting that you need to experience Jesus’ forgiveness every day, not just the one time you decided to become His follower. The net result is that you stay connected to Jesus, the source of spiritual life.
By engaging with Jesus every day, you’ll become more aware of the areas of your life that don’t reflect Him so well and you’ll invite Him to change you in those areas. Before you know it, you’ll be developing those character qualities that Peter lists in verses 5-7 and the end result is you’ll be a more loving person who is thriving spiritually and experiencing genuine transformation.
What has been your understanding and view of what it means to grow as a Christian? How have you generally viewed the goal of Christian growth? In other words, what has been your past standard for measuring and evaluating growth as a Christian?
What has been your experience as a Christian with growth? If you were talking to someone who asked you to chronicle your life as a Christian, highlighting the growth and development you’ve experienced since you became a Christian, what would you say?
When you look at the list of qualities Peter mentions, what is your response or reaction? Does the list create excitement or anxiety? Explain.
What are practical steps you can take to become a more loving person? Who do you know who can be a resource or mentor as you seek to grow as a Christian?