“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2 Peter 1:5–7, AV)
In 1969, I entered Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia. I went there to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Over the course of five years, there were a variety of courses. Some of these were core studies such as math, physics, chemistry, etc. Other courses were specific to mechanical engineering. I was fortunate to have been accepted into the college of engineering having my grades and SAT scores high enough to make the cut.
For me, life in high school was easy. It seemed that I could just skate by with minimal effort and still get grades good enough to enter a very good school. However, when I began my studies at Drexel, I quickly discovered that I was not going to be able to skate by any longer. If I was to graduate with a Mechanical Engineering degree, I would have to work hard and make every effort to add to my repertoire the skills that the university was teaching me in my courses. Just being a mechanical engineering student was no guarantee that I would be a good engineer if and when I graduated. I had a personal responsibility to work hard in my studies.
There is a similar responsibility in the Christian faith. Peter speaks of this here. Just prior to these verses, (2 Peter 1:5-7), Peter indicated that God had granted to us everything we needed for a life of faith and godliness. However, while God has provided for us everything we need, we have a personal responsibility to use what He has provided and grow in our faith. This is the work of sanctification by which we are progressively further separated from sin and the flesh and dedicated to the glorious purposes of God.
To grow in Christlikeness takes due diligence and effort. We will not get there by sitting on our laurels and just skating by. The Scripture commands us to make every effort to add to our faith, virtue, and to that knowledge, and to that temperance (self-control), and to that patience, and to that godliness, and to that brotherly kindness, and to that charity (that is agape). These vital characteristics of the faith are to be increasing in the life of every believer.
What does the effort look like that will result in producing these characteristics? These will come through the exercising of the various disciplines of the faith. A key discipline is Bible engagement, which includes not just hearing the word, but the study of and obedience to it. Believers should be engaged in reading and studying the word throughout the week. They should also meet with other believers for fellowship, study, and prayer. They must also be steadfast in prayer, giving, and service. Personal effort is required in the disciplines of the faith.
There are definite blessings that will accompany the believer’s life that makes every effort to add these qualities to their faith. More about this in the next devotion.