The Apostle Peter wrote in his second letter addressed as final instructions on God’s grace and truth to people he thought he might not see again. As you can imagine, you’d craft a carefully written letter if it were the last thing you’d communicate to someone you cared about a great deal.
Peter notes an interesting series of successive steps as we live in faith and receive the promises God has so generously provided. Here they are, taken from verses 5 through 7:
Faith > Moral excellence > Knowing God better > Self-control > Patient endurance > Godliness > Love for other Christians > Love for everyone
Peter seems to note that one thing leads to another. As each item is obtained, it then leads to the next characteristic on the list. I wonder if we can use this to take inventory of the current state of our faith life? As I do this for myself, I do get a little tripped up in the perfect accomplishment or conquering of each. I guess that’s my type-A personality to do so.
However, when I look through the lens of my nature and how Jesus continues to mold and shape my life, I do seem to be making some progress. How and what I tend to choose to do in situations and how I behave and relate to other people has been changing during my time following Jesus.
What’s the point of this? It’s actually laid out for us in the next verses in 2 Peter 1:8-11. Here’s where a life sold out on this journey leads:
Useful and Productive: God will draw us into serving those he cares about.
View: God will provide us with his perspective on this and not leave us trapped in our shortsightedness.
Chosen: Following this journey is evidence that we belong to him.
Sure-footing: God will keep us from stumbling and falling away from him.
Eternity: The big pay off. God will fling open wide heaven’s gates for you.
There. Don’t be discouraged. As a matter of fact, be positive as it’s all mapped out for us. Start with your faith and acceptance of God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness he has freely given to you. Then, move to goodness (or moral excellence) – stripping out the ugly in your life. I don’t see that these need to be mutually exclusive either. No reason while focusing on goodness that you can’t begin working on your knowledge of God.
I know this is very cliché, but this is truly a journey. Make your next step a good one, forward on the path towards love.