Last week, we looked at the Apostle Peter’s first letter to the church; this week our focus is on his second. 2 Peter 1 is a powerful reminder of the importance of faith and the virtues that accompany it. In this chapter, Peter encourages us to cultivate these virtues in order to strengthen our faith and our relationship with God. Faith is key because it comes first; without faith, Peter says, it is impossible to please God. This is not to say that people without faith cannot do good things. We all know that they can. However, our lives as Christians are to be driven and consumed by our faith so that our good comes from who, or whose, we are. So, what is Peter’s “virtues test” when it comes to building a stronger faith?
The first step is righteousness, the character trait most pleasing to God. This means seeking to do right in all circumstances, whether we feel like it or not. Righteous living changes our character from inwardly focused to outwardly focused. Next is knowledge; not so much facts about God but knowledge of God’s character. It’s the knowledge that comes from spending time in God’s presence, meditating on God’s Word, and seeking to understand God’s will for my life. Third is self-control. Self-control turns me from my desires toward what is right and pleasing to God. Next, we need to add steadfastness. None of the virtues Peter has listed to this point, with more to follow, are easy. We will fail from time to time, and perhaps we even fail often. The key is to remain firm and committed. The next virtue is godliness. If we thought the previous ones were difficult, this one seems downright impossible. But, again, it’s a matter of commitment coupled with the understanding that we can’t accomplish any of these things on our own. Godliness is the quality of becoming more like God in character and conduct. I’m not convinced that any amount of practice can make us perfect, but it can make us better … and help us better become a reflection of God’s glory to the world around us. Finally, Peter encourages us to act out of love. Without love, everything we think we are doing for God isn’t for God at all; they are things we do to make ourselves feel better or look better to others, including God.
Peter ends chapter 1 of his letter by writing that he intends to keep reminding them of these things. That’s comforting for us because it affirms that we need reminders as well. As you reflect on Peter’s words this morning, how are you doing when it comes to applying Peter’s “virtues test” to your life?
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