May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus, he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
Therefore, I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. (New Revised Standard Version)
One of the greatest deceptions which befall humanity is the lie that we aren’t enough – that somehow we lack something in our core personhood. Another great deception is that God is holding out on us – that we’ve gotten the short end of things.
It is my hope and prayer that today’s New Testament lesson puts a stake through the heart of those twin deceiving vampires. Erroneous beliefs only suck the life out of us. Instead, we must imbibe deeply of sound theology which enables us to live robustly in this old fallen world.
We have everything we need to grow in grace. God’s provision for us is total and complete. By grace, we can discern between truth and error; endure hostility, hardship, even persecution; live with patience as we await the new heaven and new earth; and face anything in this present life with confidence and hope because we’ve been equipped for it all.
Core to all this provision is the very life of Christ. Jesus is the source of the power and grace needed to live this incredible life. The same resurrection power which raised Christ from the grave is available and provided to us.
Believers are not in some weird holding pattern, like a plane circling the airport waiting to land, twiddling our thumbs until Christ returns. No! This present life is to be fully engaged with the tools given us of faith, hope, and love. And those spiritual implements are sufficient to walk with boldness through the valley of the shadow of death.
It continually must be borne in mind that we are to take up the gifts given us and use them in our present sojourn on this earth. Let us put significant energy into our faith development through knowing our call to holiness; and knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, his power and suffering.
Carefully and confidently using our faith, we are to fully participate in God’s divine power through the qualities of:
- Goodness. Cultivation of moral excellence is both helpful and needed in all our relationships. Goodness is like a seed planted. We need to give it proper amounts of water and sun and keep the weeds away.
- Knowledge. There are two words in the ancient Greek for knowledge: one is a reference to acquiring information; and the other refers to actively using the information provided. The Apostle Peter uses the latter – an experiential knowledge which is wise, discerning, and discreet.
- Self-Control. This is the ability to get a grip on yourself, to avoid controlling others and focus on all things within your own control. Ultimate control belongs to God; and we are called to self-control.
- Endurance. To see the big picture, to look ahead and keep your eye on the goal, is the lived practice of endurance or perseverance. Everyone has patience. It’s rather a matter of whether we will tap into it, or not.
- Godliness. The heart of godliness is awareness of self, others, and God – rightly relating to them all with wholeness and integrity.
- Mutual Affection. Basic human kindness is imperative between two people, especially with fellow believers.
- Love. This is the Christian’s consummate virtue. Whereas affection is to be mutual, love can always be done whether someone loves us back, or not. Genuine love can be directed at the unlovely, even enemies.
We are to be effective and productive in adding divine virtues to our lives. It’s not a matter of more but better.
Even a smidge of faith can move a mountain.
A kernel of goodness can produce a harvest of righteousness.
A little bit of knowledge can be turned into love.
Small self-control can develop into immense self-control.
Keeping our head up for a few seconds can help us see the goal and endure to the end.
One insight can create a cascade of godliness.
A single act of kindness can change a life forever.
Love, no matter how big or small, can change the world.
We possess all these qualities and are in want of nothing. We are enough because Christ is enough.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. – A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi