Do you want to know how to keep from stumbling? Peter tells us in the opening of his letter. He tells us that God has provided everything we need for this life through true knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Therefore we are to be diligent in adding to our faith moral excellence, and to moral excellence knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)
Peter is writing his letter to those who are saved-we do not have to work hard to be saved-God by His sovereign power has already done that-rather we are to work hard because we are saved. So we are to be diligent in adding to our faith things which will make us even more fruitful and will keep us from stumbling; Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:10-11) I think my favorite synonym for diligent is “punctilious” which means showing great attention to details or correct behavior. I just like how that word plays in my mouth.
Taking a look in more detail, first we are to be a people of moral excellence. I find it interesting that in this list of qualities we are to have moral excellence comes before knowledge. That seemed backwards to me. How can it come first? I cannot look to the world for moral excellence-it is a mighty confused place at the moment for sure. So where do I look? To God of course-His very nature. So I start with God and strive to be like Him first of all. As Peter stated in verse 4: For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world. When I think about this list Peter gives us as partaking in the divine nature of God Himself-there is my first step-God’s moral excellence-I start by acknowledging Him as far superior to all else.
To that moral excellence we can now add knowledge. Before I knew Christ I was ignorant. (Ephesians 4:17-24) Now He has given me understanding and through the work of the Spirit and my study of God’s Word my knowledge of Him increases. The knowledge of God is essential to my life, it keeps my feet on a sure path. Knowledge of God shows me what I am to be like if I am to be like Him.
To that knowledge I now add self-control. Oh boy-that is where I really struggle. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Armed as I am with the knowledge I have been given I now apply it punctiliously to controlling those desires which do not bring glory to God. And I do have a perfect example to follow-that line about being a partaker of the divine nature is starting to give me goosebumps.
Now let’s add in perseverance. And I thought self-control was a struggle. Perseverance can be painful. Persevering in my pursuit of living a godly life means that when the going gets tough, when I am ridiculed for my beliefs, when trials come my way I do not quite-I continue to strive towards the goal of my upward call in Christ Jesus. And when I stop to think about how Christ persevered in the face of His great suffering, well it puts things in a different perspective.
Next we add godliness. I have come to the conclusion that godliness can be defined as acting in a way that is pleasing to God. It entails laying aside my own will to do God’s. Again, I have the perfect example in Christ who came to do the will of the Father. It is another part of the divine nature.
To godliness we can add brotherly kindness. This is the love we express to one another as fellow believers in Christ. We share a common bond through Christ and we should be encouraging one another-loving one another just as Christ loves us. We love one another because of who we are in Christ.
Finally, on top of it all we are to add love. This is the agape love God showed to us, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. This kind of love is not motivated by what the other person is or does, but is the love of God flowing through us-and it is not reserved for believers, but to be shared with the whole world. We have the greatest example to follow in God, who loved the world so much that He gave us His only beloved Son, who lived and died and lives again, that we might now live forever with Him in His kingdom. We are partakers of this divine nature!
Grace, Peace, and Mercy,