“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
Paul asked “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” after his conversion enroute to Damascus. God didn’t lay all the details on him then. He just told him the single, simple, and specific task to do that day.
With many new believers, so many
stipulations and protocols and mannerisms exist to provide ‘instant spirituality’ or ‘canned godliness’, that Biblical “growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” is lost on them.
Peter, the most ambitious and outspoken of all the apostles lays it out as plainly as possible. Faith is where we all begin “For by grace are ye saved through faith” and “Without faith it is impossible to please him”. Faith is the first step; it is simple, vital, and gifted to us freely upon asking. Step one: done.
Now, depending on what discipleship program, denomination, or study guide you use, moving from this point can almost seem like a step backward. Some recommend immediate immersion into service in the church, others that you remove old habits from your life for something more “saintly”. But God said to Martha, “One thing is needful”.
Virtue. Virtue, according to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, is nothing but voluntary obedience to truth. It’s that simple. Obey the truth. Accordingly, you can only obey what you KNOW. But until you are willing to take the step of virtue, there is no need of taking the next step.
Knowledge. Read the Bible. There are so many things God desires you to know. Paul, Daniel, Moses, all earnestly desired to know the things that you and I can pick up, in our own language, anytime and read in a King James Bible. But it doesn’t stop with knowing; in fact many think they need to know so much that they never make this next move:
Temperance. How instructive! God didn’t want to choke us on meat, so he ordered a solution on the side. “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5) Temperance is pace. The race is long, and the Lord knows it. WE want to know now, but the Word says, “But THEN face to face” not now. Remember, we are not supposed to know, we are supposed to grow.
Patience. How long, O Lord? Answer: As long as it takes. Nobody takes a summer vacation across the USA to go see the saplings planted in my backyard. But many make it a point before they die to see the hundreds-of-years-old redwoods on our western coasts. “Let patience have her perfect work.” One of the fruit of the Spirit is NOT patience, mostly I believe because it applies across the board to EVERY ASPECT of the 9-fold fruit listed. Time is the only element out of our control that is required for growth. You can’t cheat time. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon said that God makes all things beautiful “in his time”.
I want to grow. But have I started right? If you desire the end of the perfect, throughly furnished man of God, you must take the necessary steps. One at a time, please. Watch your step!