Keep in mind:
- These are not tightly-reasoned intellectual theologian essays. They're a record of things I am thinking about this topic.
- I'd love to read your comments and feedback. You might notice that all comments have to be approved by me, so please think before you write! It's so easy to be a jerky jerk who reacts like a jerk when commenting on a touchy topic like this.
- I work really hard to circumscribe my thinking by the authority of the Word of God, the Bible--and not anything else. I do hold to a theological system and a confession, but they are not the authorities that the Bible is. I try to make my points based on the Bible.
- These are only intended to be a documentation of how the Bible shapes and directs my thoughts and attitudes in regards to this topic. I'm not preaching, because preaching is for pastors to do. I'm just sharing what I have learned.
::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::
I happen to be reading and studying 2 Peter right now, and I just finished my expedition into 2 Peter 1:5-8:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with
virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and
self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness
with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these
qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Note that this attribute-list grows. Every attribute in this list feeds into another attribute, until the crown jewel of them all is the attribute of love. The purpose of having these attributes is to that we can refrain from "being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus"...or, to put that into positive terms, to cause us to be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus.
- This command is addressed to "those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ," as we can see from 2 Peter 1:1. Consequently, if you have faith (true faith is only "by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ"), then this command applies to you.
- Not only does that command apply to you, but the extra adjectival prepositional phrase (I'm a grammar nerd, ok?) "of equal standing" applies to your faith: if you have true faith, then it is a faith of equal standing with Peter's...and of equal standing with everyone else's, too.
- It's not enough just to have these characteristics. No, they have to grow, too: "if these qualities are yours and are increasing." (italics mine)
- All of us, no matter if we are male or female, are commanded to put forth effort into having and growing these characteristics.
- The characteristics are vital to have. If I do not show forth these attributes, I may conclude a couple things. (1) I don't have true faith or (2) I don't take knowledge of Jesus Christ seriously enough to make His truth, the Bible, in charge of my attitudes and actions.
- The characteristics aren't practiced in a vacuum. I'm not an ascetic, I'm not living in seclusion, I'm not a pole-sitter. The attributes are practiced while I live my life interacting with others.
- If I'm acting like a shrew, or being hypersensitive, or treating the people in my life like they're trash or insignificant, then I'm breaking this command.
Thankfully, in this very verse is the solution for that sort of deadly error: who is this command given to? To me, because I have faith by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He already lived the perfectly righteous life, and the gospel is centered around him: He died and rose again so that his righteousness would be mine.
When I miss the mark (even insignificantly), thankfully, justice has already been served (that was what the Cross was all about) and I am freed from wrath and guilt to keep on with the command: putting effort into living life according to the standards set forth for me in the Bible. I operate in the grace of Jesus' righteousness applied to me, right? So as I go on interacting with others, I have the best possible ruler for measuring success: am I doing what the command says? Here it is again:
Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with
knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and
brotherly affection with love. --2 Peter 1:5-7
All Scripure references are taken from the English Standard Version.