Monday, November 27, 2006

Make every effort...

Today's New Testament reading includes this exhortation from 2 Peter 1:
[M]ake 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.
2 Peter 1.5-7
Peter is telling us here to practice goodness, to grow in knowledge, and so on. Paul prays some of these things for us, but Peter is saying that we don't just pray for these and forget it; rather, we should make every effort to move in the direction that God wants us to grow in.

The phrase "make every effort" sounded familiar, and sure enough there are several other places in the New Testament where we're told to "make every effort...":
  • ... to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him (2 Peter 3.14)
  • ... to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12.14)
  • ... to enter that rest, so that no one will fail by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4.11)
  • ... to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4.3)
  • ... to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Romans 14.19)
  • ... to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13.24)

Well, I'm not sure how useful that was. But back to today's passage. Right after this exhortation to add knowledge to faith and so on, Peter tells us that if we're growing in these qualities, we'll be useful and fruitful. Recently I heard in a sermon the idea that our job now is to go along with what the Spirit is doing in our lives -- basically to cooperate with, rather than resist, the Holy Spirit. I think this is part of how we grow in all those qualities. Yes, we can study the Scriptures, but we must also ask the Spirit to reveal to us their true meaning. As for goodness, self-control, and so on... those sound to me like fruit of the Spirit.

So cooperate with the Spirit. And become fruitful and useful.

Sounds like a plan!

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