Updated: Jul 3
the simplyRevised podcast
audio player: Goodness
We are considering our growth in the Lord as we look at the apostle Peter's words in 2 Peter. Peter's prescription against false teaching is Christian growth and maturity. Sometimes, it's easy for us to become stuck in one place; before we know it, we find ourselves in difficult situations.
As many of you know, I used to fish a lot. On one occasion, some friends and I went wade fishing down at San Luis Pass. We were all having a good time on this particular day and catching some fish as we were keeping our eye on the weather. There were storm clouds, and it looked like it would start raining anytime. It did. In fact, it started raining hard. My friends and I never wanted to give up fishing, and we stayed out in the water a little longer than we should have.
It was pouring when we returned to the beachfront and my Ford Ranger. We threw our wet get in the back and jumped in the cab of the truck. Thankful to be out of the rain, we were ready to head home. There was just one problem. We were stuck! It was pouring rain, and the tide was coming in, but we were not going anywhere. It seemed good to us to start digging the back tires out of the sand, one of the methods we had successfully employed in times past. However, things were getting worse. When we realized we needed help, the back bumper was on the ground.
West Galveston and San Luis Pass were fairly deserted back in those days. As the tide was inching closer and closer, I began to think I would lose my truck. As we started our trek up the beach in the pouring rain, we happened along another person who had their camper stuck. We quickly agreed to help him out if he would come back and help us. Pulling his camper out hooked up to his dually truck took little effort.
Reaching the pavement, we unhooked his camper, and thankfully he went back down the beach to pull us out. Returning to my Ford Ranger, the water's edge was within a few feet. We made it out and returned home safely. This trip provided one more story in the many stories of our fishing days.
For younger generations, this was well before the days of cell phones. Added to this, we were in a fairly remote location. The guy with the camper was the only other person we saw. We were stuck, and the situation was a bit more desperate than we had thought.
In much the same way, this can happen with our Christian growth. We can get stuck and not realize the danger we can quickly find ourselves in. Peter provides words of wisdom; applying them will keep us from getting buried down to the rear axle.
2 Peter 1:5–8
"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Add To Your Faith
Peter encourages us to add to or supplement our faith with all diligence. To avoid getting stuck takes a level of intentionality. Growing in the Lord will take a commitment to growth. Peter stated, "as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3). The Lord has supplied what is needed for our growth. However, we must participate with Him in our growth. Christian growth will not happen without intentionality.
We are to add to our faith virtue. This word is also translated as moral excellence or goodness, depending on what Bible translation you may be reading from. It's a word in Greek that relates to an uncommon character or a character worthy of praise. In the Old Testament, the word is often associated with God relating to His glory, honor, or greatness.
Backing up to Peter's first letter, this is a word he has already associated with Jesus.
1 Peter 2:9
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light"
As Christians, we are to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness. As Peter has related this word with Christ, I believe here in 2 Peter the intention is to grow into the likeness of Christ, demonstrating an excellence of character.
We are often challenged to compromise our character. A quick word, a quick decision, or an unexpected moment can lead to a choice or decision we regret. Suddenly, our character is compromised. To guard against an unbending character takes intentionality.
Daniel is a young man we read about in the Old Testament. Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, came and took captive Jerusalem. Daniel and two of his friends were taken into the King's service.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."
Early on, Daniel determined to be intentional about his character as he trusted in the Lord. He purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the King's food.
Goodness, or moral excellence, begins with small steps. It starts with purposefully honoring God, even with choices, words, and actions that may seem insignificant at the time. The daily practice will grow into an unbending character.
Daniel, as we know, refused to bend. In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar builds a golden image and commands everyone to bow down and worship the image. Daniel and his friends refused to bend. They did not bow down and worship the golden image. Instead, they trusted in the Lord.
A character that honors God takes intentionality. As the apostle Peter says, it must be pursued with all diligence. Christlike character is not accidental.
Jesus demonstrated moral excellence as He trusted in God. He did what He saw the Father doing.
"Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."
We participate in the character of Christ when we follow after Him and as we place our trust in Him. Jesus instructed those who believed in Him to keep His words (John 8:31). Building Christ-like character begins with being intentional about the small steps we take each day to do what He did.
As we emulate Christ, we are not going to be perfect. In fact, I'm sure we're not going to be. Sometimes we may feel like we are stuck in the mud. We are not growing. We are not moving. We are just getting deeper and deeper. I do not doubt that I would have lost my truck that day on the beach if it had not been for one stranger in a dually truck.
Emulating the goodness of Christ in our lives is not all about us. It's not all about how good I can be. "...His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3). We need to be intentional about our growth in the Lord. We need to be intentional about the steps and choices we make each day. However, in our relationship with Christ, we participate with Him. And He has already supplied for our need.
Perhaps today, you feel stuck. Is it time to seek His strength?
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
slides (PDF): Goodness
series image: Increase