Happenings around Antioch

Make Every Effort to Add These!

One of the wakeup calls that happened in my life as a teenager was when my dad found out I was regularly skipping school about once a week. He sat me down and said this: “As long as you are living in this house and wearing clothes and eating food that I provide for you, you will go to school and work hard. Every day.” There was an indicative: you are loved and provided for here. And it was connected to an imperative: you will work hard at your calling which, right now, is a student. Peter says something similar to his readers, connecting the indicative to the imperative, because they cannot be separated. He says, because his divine power and precious promises and everything that pertains to life and godliness have been given to you by God…you will make every effort to grow up, become established in the truth, live a godly life, and enjoy the fruit of your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Why do some Christians think that they have to work really hard and sacrifice much to become a better athlete, a valuable employee, a talented musician, or a better spouse…but being a follower of Christ requires little because, “Hey, it’s all good! God loves me!” He does love you. And it is God’s love and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice that saved us and calls us to grow in character and godliness and good works. The idea is captured by Solomon in Proverbs 24: I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” Solomon was talking about sloth and the price one pays for laziness in his work. But the same applies to our life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and that is what Peter addresses.

Make every effort to do these things, Peter writes. Do it now, with haste. This is urgent where other things can wait. Add to your faith these things that will require sacrifice and effort. Remember, saints, your faith to believe was a gift. You did not add that, God did. Grace is a gift that God adds every day, to build our faith and enable us to add these qualities to our faith. Remember, you are not saved by works, but you are saved to works. Why do we need to make every effort to add these qualities to our faith? Peter tells us that it is so we will be effective and fruitful in Jesus!

This list of qualities Peter tells us to work on, are “Not a legalistic code but rather the desires and features of a transformed heart.” (ESV Study Bible) If holiness were as easy as removing a TV from our homes and making sure our wives and daughters only wear dresses (neither of which are evidences of spiritual maturity), then we could all be just about perfect. But this list goes beyond externals and goes into matters of the heart. These qualities require his divine power that he freely gives to all who ask. So what are these qualities we are told to make every effort to add to our faith?

Read them in the first chapter of 2 Peter.