The apostle Peter was an expert on spiritual growth. While Jesus was living, Peter was a very zealous disciple. He was brave enough to walk on the sea towards Jesus. He confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God when many forsook the Savior. Yet Peter sometimes said the wrong thing and had a problem with pride. However, as he grew in Christ, he became more humble and was a guiding force in the early church. We, like Peter, must grow in Christ a step at a time.
In 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter provided some guidelines for strong spiritual growth. Over the next couple of weeks, we will examine this passage in detail. If we integrate these principles into our lives, we “will never stumble” and we will assure ourselves of salvation.
The word that links these characteristics of a Christian life is “add.” The word does not connote the idea of stacking the characteristics on faith. Instead, think of an orchestra in which a few instruments play a particular theme and other instruments join in and, though playing variations of the theme, blend into a harmonious masterpiece. As we grow in Christ, we will continue to add these characteristics to our lives and each will support and enhance the other.
The theme of our growth is faith. Faith meanders through each characteristic that we add. Faith teaches us about traits we must add through the word of God (Romans 10:17). We will not know moral courage unless we know the high moral standard established in the word of God and the strength we must have in living it. Of course, knowledge comes from the word of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” and the Bible reveals God’s will to man. The Bible teaches us, both by command and example, the need for self-control and a persevering spirit. The Scriptures teach us to be like God in our thoughts, our lives, and in our love towards others. If we do not know God’s word, we cannot adequately add these characteristics and make them grow.
Faith also motivates us to uphold these characteristics in our lives when others ridicule them or minimize their importance. When you embody a higher moral code and desire to be godly, you will be at odds with the world of people who do not follow God’s will. Enemies may shun, mock, or persecute you. It takes great faith and trust to do the right thing when your colleagues, fellow students, neighbors, and family think your are crazy (1 Peter 4:4). However, trust in God will allow you to endure any suffering knowing you are pleasing God and will be judged faithful by Him.
Faith provides the motivation to continually improve your life and become like Jesus. By faith, you can see what you can become. By faith, you can see yourself becoming more like Christ. Faith cannot be dead but must be a catalyst for growth. If I can learn about Jesus, and hear the Scripture say, “walk as He walked,” then I must learn all that I can about how to accomplish this. We show our faith by our works by first allowing it to work in our lives to change us and transform us into something greater than what we were.
As we study the characteristics we must add to our faith, I believe it is obvious that as our faith grows stronger, these characteristics are improved and refined in our lives. If our faith grows weak, our moral courage, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love will be poor imitations of what they ought to be.