I have been reading, studying and meditating on just 8 verses for a few days. Read them with me right now, if you will, and allow me to share some things I’ve been pondering over in these 8 verses. 2 Peter 1:1-8 (NASB)
1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
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 by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 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.
Peter is writing to believers which means that if you are a believer like me, God, by His glory and excellence, according to this scripture, has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness, and promises us that we can partake in the divine nature and escape the lusts of this world. Peter then tells us how to grab on to these promises. In other words, there are actions we are to take to receive these promises. Let’s break it down.
He says to apply all diligence in my faith. One thing we need to understand is that we don’t muster up faith on our own. We aren’t born with faith. We don’t decide one day to have faith. Faith is a gift from God that we can choose to accept. Peter is telling us that because we accept the gift of faith from God to believe, we are to act upon that faith. We must do something ourselves. We have to apply all diligence. Make every effort. We need to also understand that we aren’t making these efforts to get faith. We do something because we have faith. So, what is it that we are to do? What efforts do we make?
First, we supply moral excellence. Moral excellence should not have to be explained but with all our sinful ways, I think you could agree that it is definitely lacking in this world. We are to be righteous and do it excellently. We are to be pursuing the moral will of God in every area of life. Practicing all virtues. Seeking after every trait of God.
Then in this moral excellence, is knowledge. After knowledge, there is self-control and in this self-control, is perseverance. In perseverance is godliness which then brings brotherly kindness and then in this brotherly kindness there is love. The Greek word that Peter uses for here is agape, the love that is of and from God. Because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love. This type of love has been poured into the hearts of believers through the Holy Spirit. In other words it is a gift, just like faith.
Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness are all sandwiched between the gift of faith that is given by God and the gift of love. A faith and love sandwich, if you will, with each of the things we are to diligently apply in our lives stacked on top of each other between the two slices of the bread of life. Faith and Love. And it appears that the stuff between these two slices are in a certain order.
As I meditate upon these verses, I noticed that when we first apply all diligence to being morally excellent, our knowledge builds upon that foundation. Knowledge – let’s be clear that this is the knowledge that comes from the Holy Scriptures – allows us to be in control of self. Once we have control of self, we can then persevere. To persevere means that we continue doing what God says is right, even in our difficulties, despite how we feel. This makes sense because we can’t persevere without some sort of control over our feelings and desires, can we?
Through perseverance come godliness, defined as “a proper response to the things of God, which produces obedience and righteous living”. And then godliness brings brotherly kindness which is followed by agape love.
Isn’t it thought-provoking that after moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and godliness, we have brotherly kindness. This is the type of kindness that goes deeper than just being nice to someone. A kind of love that doesn’t come with strings attached. The kind of love God says we are to have for each other. Not always an easy kind of love.
Are these 8 verses possibly telling us that in order to love others as He would have us love them, we must first begin with moral excellence? If we haven’t taken care of applying diligence to moral excellence, could that possibly be that we really can’t love as we should. Could it be the reason we can’t persevere? Or control ourselves? Is it perhaps that we don’t have the right knowledge which is supplied by moral excellence?
Are you making a concentrated, determined, and definite effort to first be morally excellent? Not just a good person. A morally excellent one? It’s certainly a good place to start. Food for thought, isn’t it?