“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7 NASB
We start in verses 1-4 with “We have received a Faith….” and follow with the attributes we want to model as followers of Jesus Christ. Our Justification and our Glorification are all God, but our Sanctification is for us and God. It requires diligence on our part. God does His work but ours MUST follow, and we should be working on them simultaneously, not separately.
Moral excellence isn’t an attitude, and it doesn’t mean Christians are any better than anyone else. We sin just like non-Christians. The difference should be that we are consciously working towards a “cleaner” life; getting rid of the “rocks” and “weeds”, the trash and detritus, the people and things that separate us from our LORD.
We search out knowledge. It is how we grow, and is essential to a healthy spiritual life, learning and knowing God. Our knowledge must be applied and lived out in our lives. We gain it through Bible studies, by meeting together in small groups, and in our personal reading and study of God’s Word in a daily quiet time. Knowledge of His Word helps us by intensifying our worship, and it sustains us in time of crisis.
Self Control – this is a trait that is laughed at by many who are out in the world. Get hold of yourself? Reining in passion and desire? What happened to “If it feels good, do it”? In controlling our desires rather than being controlled, we exhibit one of the fruits of the Spirit: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 (also verses 19-21) NO ONE and NO THING should control me other than the Master. (Proverbs 16:32, 24:16)
As Christians, our perseverance can be evident in a “Never give up” attitude. Perseverance produces maturity. Perseverance prevails. “….. knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:3 NASB We live one day at a time; just for today – doing the next thing; refusing to quit or to give up what God has called us to do with our life. When we surround ourselves with encouragers, it is much easier to persevere. (Recommended reading: “Suffering is Never for Nothing” by Elizabeth Elliot)
Godliness means literally “God likeness, becoming like God/ Christ.” We are to emulate Christ, and to do that, we must spend time with Him. The Rev. Adoniram Judson said “Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus.” Will people say that of me – or of you?
How do we show brotherly kindness? The word Philadelphia means literally to “love your brother.” It’s our attitude towards people. Brotherly kindness isn’t just about our physical, familial brother or sister, but it’s about all of our human “siblings,” regardless of color, nationality, or proximity. True brotherly kindness prays for each other, forgives, and is generous to others. This naturally leads to the last of the fruits of the Spirit, love.
Love for others is the capstone, crowning glory; the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the higher good. All we have to do is look at the example set by Jesus; His sacrifice starting with leaving Heaven’s throne and coming to spend a lifetime on the earth. His sacrifice lead to the offering of His life on the cross, and culminated in His victory over death with His resurrection. I’m thankful that He doesn’t require that of us! As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others. There are many Scriptures on loving others: John 13:36, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5 for just an example.
“We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21 NASB