Maybe it’s not just about relationships….

There are teachers who are not good pastors and there are pastors who are not good teachers.  I am sure that there are some who have both qualities but I haven’t found one yet.  I have also heard time and again that people want to just love but there is no scripture behind it.  There seems to be an idea that love alone will do just fine.   Love is great, it’s true.  Love already won the war but there are still battles to be fought.

That might have given you the impression that this is going to be another discussion about the armor of God and while those verses speak their own truths, I want to share something else.

In 2 Peter, Peter is writing a letter that is presumably written while he was detained in a cell.  He wasn’t just sitting in jail though, he was about to be executed.  Do you know why?  Because he was sharing the gospel of Jesus.  This is a man who walked a path most of us do not have to walk and he is about to pay the price for it.  This is a man who is writing these words from experience so don’t push them away.

2 Peter 1:5 -11

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self control, and self control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  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.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.  For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When I read these verses I realized that in a way these are very good step by step instructions to follow into our walk with Jesus.  If your hope is to become fishers of men like the disciples were called to do then you might be as interested as I was to pursue this further.

#1 Faith – Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  This is the starting point.  Here is where you accept that Jesus is your savior and that you want to live a life for Him.  You put your complete trust in Him. (John 3:16-17)  We need our faith and the only way our faith can be real is if we believe that Jesus came and died on the cross for us.  To believe that He paid the price full for our sins and that through Him we receive salvation.  If we can put our complete trust on that one fact alone, we can move on.

#2 Virtue – Behavior showing high moral standards.  In the Bible these are called the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

They are:

  • Love = An intense showing of deep affection
  • Joy = A feeling of great pleasure and happiness
  • Peace = quiet and tranquility (the state of being calm)
  • Patience =the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
  • Kindness = the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate
  • Goodness = moral excellence
  • Faithfulness = steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant
  • Gentleness = kindly, amiable
  • Self Control = control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.

When you accept Jesus, there is a change in you.  2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is in a new creation.   This change would definitely be represented by the fruits of the Spirit.  These virtues will be shown in the new creation.  As a homeschooling mom, I can attest that when my kids are happy and at peace, I am able to teach them far beyond what I could if they are being impatient and upset.  It sets the foundation for us to be able to learn and grow.  In short, it makes you humble to be receptive to the knowledge that comes next.  Here we become the clay once again so the potter can begin to mold us.

#3 Once you have your virtues, you go gather knowledge.  Do you know what knowledge is? Knowledge is the facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. You get educated but you don’t just read the words, you practice them. The subject here is the Bible. James has a few things to say on this too but we will stay on track.  This is when we study the scriptures, front to back, inside and out.  We learn them but we also begin to put them into practice.  The definition incorporates both theoretical and practical use of the facts and information we acquire.  This is where our belief grows because we learn the history, we find out who the main characters were and we recognize the huge sacrifice that was made for us.  This is where it begins to get real.

#4 I found this one interesting because he refers us back to self control which is one of the virtues we would have been practicing already.  I think the reason for this would be clear because all too often we see people who have gotten to this point and stop.  They stop searching the scriptures and engaging in the fruits of the Spirit because they become prideful.  The reason why Peter chooses to remind us again is because this isn’t the first time the church has heard from him.  This letter is written as a reminder, in fact in verse 13 he writes, “I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder…”  Peter knows that we will get sidetracked so he brings us back to self control.  He reminds us to be diligent in our walk.  The high priests knew all the scriptures.  They had the ceremonies down pat.  They were, after all, the high priests!  They were the leaders of the religion!  So Peter tells us to regain control!  Don’t stop there and become someone who has perfected the religion but lost the truth.  Maintain the self control that helped you have the diligence to dedicate yourself to learning.

This topic is covered by Paul but in it he warns us that our pride may get in the way so we should humble ourselves so the only thing we boast in is Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1: 26-31)

#5 Steadfastness.  To be firmly rooted in your faith; fixed in a direction; steadily directed.  There is something about this word that I love because it really seems to drive home the importance of knowing your scriptures.  It roots you, gets your eyes fixed on the direction, and keeps you steady as you proceed your course.  2 Timothy 3:14-16: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out of God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  The only way for you to be steadfast is to be seeking the scripture.  Without that, you will not be able to root yourself in the ground, be fixed on Jesus and be steadily directed.

Jesus must be so excited when people reach this point.  When you have the scriptures inside you (Psalm 119:11), the fruits of the Spirit are part of your daily life and your faith is rooted.  Now you are ready to go.  Your eyes are fixed on the One who matters and you are strong in your faith.  This is the turning point for us.

#6 Godliness: Well if you thought you didn’t need the scriptures before this one is going to stump you.  For this we only need to go back a few verses to 2 Peter 1 verse 3: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who call us to His own glory and excellence… The knowledge comes from the Bible.  Just think about it.  When you reach this point of maturity He will lay His plan before you.  I believe you will be able to see it, as clear the disciples who walked with Jesus.  It is here that your eyes truly open and your ears can hear His voice.   You are ready for battle.

#7 Brotherly affection: Devotion, fond attachment or love.  When I started thinking about this I was caught off guard that this one was so close to the end of the list.  Aren’t we supposed to love each other?  Isn’t our time on earth all about the relationships?  Then I started thinking and I realized is it even any wonder why this would be #7 on the list?  Could it be that our purpose needs to be focused on Jesus so that He can refine us into the people He has called us to be before we can truly begin to have healthy relationships with others?  Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t spend the next years of our journey ignoring people.  The very fact that we are following God and demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit in our everyday life will allow our regular relationships to flourish.

#8 Brotherly affection with love:  This distinction, to me, drives home even further what I gathered from the last point.  That our focus needs to be pointed towards the scriptures and once we have come this far, then and only then will we have finally gotten to the point where we recognize our own plank and take it out so that we don’t even notice the plank in the eye of another.  Jesus didn’t.  He forgave sins, healed bodies and mended the broken.  He loved from the depths of His heart, the heart of a father.  And now… He has you right where He wants you to be.

It’s no longer just brotherly affection anymore, it’s brotherly affection with love!  And suddenly you have reached the depth that so few reach and you enter into the relationship with your groom that goes beyond anything you could have imagined!  His heart becomes your heart and you live full of love for Him because He fills you in every way!  There is joy in the morning, afternoon and evening because every minute is a minute spent together.  It feels like new love but it never ends!  You serve joyfully!  It is here the relationships start to grow and you begin to mentor others just like the disciples who wrote the letters to the churches.  You are completely transformed into who He called you to be…. it will be GLORIOUS! The angels will sing! The demons tremble and shake because they know that you are who He called you to be and there is nothing they can do about it.  You have finally reached the place where he told the disciples you would be in John 14 when He told them, “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I’m going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  

He gives you eyes to see, and suddenly you see far beyond yourself and you begin to recognize the people!  Here He opens the door so that you can recognize the strength that comes in serving others. He starts to mold you into being a world changer by creating you into the disciple He called you to be.  Now you are walking with Him just like they did 2,000 years ago… but with something better because you already know the ending.

And do you know why you would do all of this?  Do you know why you would spend a lifetime journeying on this path?  Why, in some cases, you might actually give your life for it?  Love.  Real, unending, Godly love that is not shallow or self serving.  It is the love that wins battles before they even start, the love that conquered the world and testifies to others: He is the one true God, Jesus!

And when you draw your last breath, you know there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of Jesus.  Here you will stand before Jesus knowing that you have completed the race, kept the faith and you will be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Come and share your masters happiness!”  (Matthew 25:23)

Oh glorious day!!

I have not dedicated my time to learning the scriptures the way I want to.  I’m still learning the fruits of the Spirit as well but I think that one will be a lifelong lesson for all of us. But how I pray I will get there.  This doesn’t mean that He won’t use me where I am now because He does.  Just like He gave the talons out to three different people and He blessed those who gave it their all.  “Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23

But it is so easy to stop there.  To go a little and feel like that is enough.  We live in such a self serving world where there is a hundred different ways to get a compliment and very little that we lack.  I don’t want to be here anymore.  I want to keep going further.  These verses have opened my eyes just a little bit to let me think of what majesty He has planned for my life.  I want to drink from the living water.  Don’t you?

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