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.
2 Peter 1:5-8
As I was reading my Bible today this passage stuck out to me. I've been reading Peter's epistles because I really relate to him and find him my favorite Biblical figure. I've been seeking ways to become closer to God and to handle certain disappointments in my life. I've been wanting stronger faith in trusting what God wants of me. Then I read this passage. So let's break it down.
"Make every effort." God knows that we're not perfect and we will fail at times. However, He also expects us to strive to do our best. We're not supposed to give a half-hearted try, but are expected to make EVERY effort. Every single way we can think of to accomplish what He wants.
"Add to your faith goodness..." We start with faith. That is the basis for everything else. Faith in God and what He can do. Faith in Christ and what He did. Once we have that faith we should add "goodness". The exact definition of this can be open to interpretation, but I take it to mean being good. Doing good deeds, treating people nice, and so on. No, we're not saved by our works. But our faith is shown by our works, and God calls us to treat others with love.
"And to goodness, knowledge..." We need to know God and know the Bible. We need to study His Word and understand it. By having knowledge of God, we increase our ability to know Him and defend ourselves against Satan.
"And to knowledge, self-control..." Now I find this an interesting addition. Self-control against what? Anger. Lust. Envy. Hatred. Just pick your sin. Whenever we find ourselves in situations that go against God's wishes, we need to control our own urges. Following sinful impulses can lead us into big trouble, and that's not what God wants.
"And to self-control, perseverance..." Tough times are going to happen, and we're going to have struggles. We need to keep trudging on and persevere in these times. When hardships hit them the Apostles didn't give up. We shouldn't either, no matter how difficult things may get.
"And to perseverance, godliness..." Godliness. Acting like God. We're imperfect and unholy and we can't be God. We're only human, and can't reach the perfection of the human Christ. However, that doesn't mean that we can't strive for these characteristics, practicing love, patience, forgiveness, understanding, and so on. Jesus was on this Earth to be an example for us, and we should follow that example.
"And to godliness, brotherly kindness..." We are to love and be kind to other people. We are expected to treat them like brothers. Even when people aren't being kind to us (or maybe especially when this happens) we are to treat them like beloved family members. When we see someone in need, we are to reach out to them and give them kindness.
"And to brotherly kindness, love." I don't think it's insignificant that this is the final thing in the list. God calls us to love each other and all that implies. The other characteristics in this list all boil down to love...loving God and loving others.
So if we have all of these qualities (faith, goodness, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) we can be productive and effective. By knowing more about Christ we can emulate Him better. When we're more like Christ, we can do amazing things in our own lives and the lives of others. Let's all strive to have these characteristics and be more effective for Christ.