“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).
The epistle of 2 Peter contains the final words of the apostle Peter. He was near death when he wrote, likely in prison awaiting his execution. A faithful shepherd to the end, he wanted to ensure his beloved fellow believers understood the importance of their faith and how they were to live it out. In light of this, he gave them a list of eight qualities that would mark their obedience to and growth in Christ.
The first quality is faith, the foundation of the believer’s identity in Christ. Without faith, we cannot be saved. This is the starting point for every believer’s walk with Christ. Peter wrote that faith is to be supplemented with virtue: that is, a pure life lived under the direction of God’s commands. After virtue comes knowledge, acquired by careful study of God’s Word. Self-control follows knowledge, as we put what we’ve learned from our studies into practice. Next comes steadfastness, a tenacious, consistent hold on the truths of God’s Word and a dedication to living them out. Steadfastness leads to godliness, which will in turn lead to brotherly affection and culminate in unconditional love. Seeing these qualities manifested in our lives is evidence that the Holy Spirit is truly at work in our lives.
These qualities don’t just come by happenstance, though. Peter told his readers to “make every effort” to grow in these areas. They couldn’t become like Jesus just by sitting there and living like they’d always done. Rather, they had to deliberately chase after the character of Christ, making a concentrated effort to grow into His image.
It’s easy to just sit back and let our lives float by around us, content to rest in the knowledge that we are saved. But the Christian walk is so much more than that! God calls us to move, to grow, to continue in maturity as we live out our faith in our everyday lives. Growing in God doesn’t just happen; we have to make an effort to change our lives in accordance with God’s instructions. God has given us everything we need to live a life of godliness, if we will only be courageous enough to pick up those tools and go to work.