Did you know God's Word promises that we have everything we need to live a godly life?
Well, it's true! This amazing promise was proclaimed to all believers by the very disciple who followed Jesus for three years, who bumbled and blundered all along the way, who denied Jesus as He was being interrogated and crucified, and who was restored to a right relationship with Him after the resurrection! This man, very much like us (or, at least, like me) in every way, Simon Peter penned these words right before his death, in his second letter in the Bible.
I wasn't planning to write this post, this day. But after sharing these amazing truths for the hundredth time, I promised a loved one I would write them down. So, here goes.
This precious promise is so significant to me! It is a Wow, Wow, Wow, hit-that-one-out-of-the-ball-park kind of a promise, which has powerfully impacted and shaped my walk of faith. Yet, like most (okay, all) of God's Word, this truth, along with the power and the mystery of it, unfolded for me over time. Over many, many years!
It all began when I read the words written on a small, green 3x5 card plastered, along with many other notes and photos, on my refrigerator door. It was the latest verse I was trying to memorize: "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to your goodness, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, perseverance; and to your perseverance, godliness; and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your 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."
"Lord," I cried, "I can tell this is really important stuff! But, what does it mean? What does it look like in my every day, soccer mom, crazy, busy life? Lord, I desperately want to be effective and productive in my knowledge of You!"
Then suddenly, standing in my kitchen, as I reread the words, it dawned on me that it was much like a diet.
First, you must have FAITH that eating wisely is right and necessary. However, you still don't lose weight.
Next, you must decide that eating wisely is GOOD for you. However, you still do not lose weight.
Then, you must seek out KNOWLEDGE about the best diet plan for you. But, guess what, you still are not going to lose weight.
Until, you add to your faith, goodness, and knowledge, SELF-CONTROL! Then, finally, you begin to experience the results of weight loss. You also discover that self-control is actually pretty fun! Soon you lose weight, you feel better, your friends begin to notice and compliment you, and you get to buy new clothes.
This, however, is the part where many of us quit or go backwards. Because, it becomes hard to exercise self-control as our weight plateaus, people stop noticing, and we get tired of eating all that healthy stuff. Yet, this is precisely the time when we need to add PERSEVERANCE to self-control!
Some of us will persevere for a while. But, if we're honest, how many of us go back and forth between admitting it is good for us, regaining knowledge about the past diet or gaining new knowledge about the latest diet fad, then adding self-control once again, and, perhaps, even persevering for yet another season, until we fail and begin the cycle all over again.
That day, standing in my kitchen, I realized that when I finally had true success with a diet (or exercise program or hobby or goal), was when I added GODLINESS! I understood we finally have victory to make our new diet (or other discipline) a lifestyle when we do it not just to look good or to feel better or to get accolades, but we do it because we know that God is asking us to and that it is pleasing to Him.
So, you ask, what about the last two? Well, you know, when you finally have success at your new diet, you tell everyone around you to "jump on the band wagon." You want your friends and family to experience the benefits you are enjoying, and attempt to express to everyone around you BROTHERLY KINDNESS, "Come on! Join me! You'll love it!"
And, finally, when others don't join us, when they are happy for us, but not ready to "jump in" themselves, we add LOVE! Because love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)
I was so excited about this revelation, I decided to memorize the passage in it's whole context. So, I carefully printed one verse at a time on new 3x5 cards, hung them on the frig door, and slowly began to memorize more of Peter's second letter to the church. As I did, I found (duh!) it was all connected to a much bigger picture. That's when I discovered the "diet" passage was so much deeper, richer, and more powerful than what I just shared above.
First, I saw an equation, of sorts, in verse 3. God's divine power + our knowledge of Him = everything we need to live a godly life. Wow! I now knew the "key" to grow in my knowledge of Him was the "diet" illustration in verses 5-8. So, my growing knowledge of Jesus added to God's amazing and available power was the secret to living a godly life.
Next, in verse 4, I was thrilled to discover that the very powerful and practical tools to live victoriously in this corrupt world and to overcome my own sinful desires was the very scriptures themselves, the word of God which I had fallen in love with when I finally surrendered my life to Jesus. Learning God's great and precious promises, applying them, and living them out was part of the mystery of living a godly life.
Next, verse 9 revealed to me that one thing that causes us to stumble in our godly living is when we forget that we've been cleansed from our past sins. We can get so caught up in our former ways and past sins, we forget the joyful truth that we have been forgiven and cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus. So, we need to always remember that we have been (forgiven) and cleansed of our past sins.
I confess, I stopped memorizing the letter after I saw the wonderful news in the next verses, 9 and 10, that if we did these things we would never stumble, and we would receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Alleluia! I was totally jazzed to learn these freeing truths that could make my life fruitful on earth and guarantee a grand entry, one day, into heaven.
Years later, a precious friend, who also memorized Peter's letter, shared with me that these were his last words to the church. So, I finally memorized that last portion of chapter 1 which ends with these words, "and I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things."
Peter's letter was already precious and powerful to me, ever since I saw the message on that little green card in my kitchen and prayed to know how to apply it. Then it grew more so, as I saw it in context and realized the bigger picture. But, when I learned it was Peter's final, "more important than anything else, remember this" message, I was totally blown away!
And, like Peter, more than anything else, I want everyone to know these precious, powerful, and practical truths that promise us everything we need to live a godly life on earth, while we wait expectantly for our home in heaven!
So, please, dear reader, make every effort, to remember these things!