Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How to be Effective and Productive in Christ

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
2 Peter 1:5-9 NIV
This is an intriguing passage from 2 Peter.  Peter gives a list of virtues that most believers would concede are appropriate for a Christian.  But most who are honest would admit that they fall short in many of these areas.  The problem with that is not that we fall short, but that we seem to accept that that condition is acceptable.  I am the way that I am, and to change would just be too hard.

But Peter has a couple of interesting things to say about that.  First of all he tells us to have these qualities in increasing measure, and to make every effort to do so.  Do you struggle with perseverance?  Don't give up and  accept defeat in this area.  Instead make every effort to develop it in your life.  Do you feel like you do OK with perseverance?  Good!  Now seek to do even better.  No matter how poorly or well you are doing with any of these, there is always room from growth.  Make every effort to increase in each of them.

The second, and more interesting, thing that Peter has to say to me in this passage deals with the consequence of developing in these virtues.  If I possess them in increasing measure, if I am growing in perseverance, in godliness, in love, etc., then they will keep me from being ineffective and unproductive in my knowledge of Christ.  It is not enough to just have these virtues; I need to be growing in each of them.  I need to avoid reaching the place where I am content with who I am; because that is the road that leads to being ineffective and unproductive.

And just in case we didn't get it, Peter charges those who lack these virtues with being nearsighted and blind, and forgetting where they have come from.  I think it is likely that Peter was not just talking about having these virtues, but rather having them in increasing measure.  If we are not growing in faith, goodness, godliness, brotherly kindness, etc., it is an indication that we have lost sight of what God has called us to be and are happy with where we are.  We are just drifting aimlessly along through this life; and of minimal value in the kingdom's work.

Make every effort to grow in your faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  Doing so will ensure that you are both effective and productive in your work for the master.

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