Would somebody give me a handle on what a Christian is supposed to be like or to do? I remember when I was a youth – everyone had a different take on what it meant, on what Christians did and didn’t do.
A couple of years ago this passage, 2 Peter 1:5-8, popped out at me. as I read the verse, I noticed a distinct progression in the qualities Christians should possess.
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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, 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. (NIV)
I don’t suppose this verse will answer all of anyone’s questions about this, but I found it very insightful, and something even new Christians might understand.
The first step anyone must take if they are sincere about following Christ is to have faith in him, to believe he is who he says he is, and that he died on the cross to save each of us individually for our sins. We have to at least begin to recognize our sins before even that first step will make sense, and as we do, we will begin working at goodness – at getting the sin out of our lives.
But we can’t stop yet, we need to add to goodness knowledge – and this comes from seeking to know Jesus through the Bible, through learning what he says for us to do. Jesus promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us to understand the Bible, so don’t let this overwhelm you at first. God knows when we are trying, and he doesn’t expect instant perfection. He will be patient with us.
And guess what we will find as we study his Word – we will discover areas in our lives that displease Jesus that we didn’t even know about when we first began to trust him. That’s where self-control begins to be needed as we work to shed those sins as well. Besides that, we will probably have friends who will want to pull us back down to where we started from, making self-control all the harder to achieve.
Perseverance is what it takes to keep at it when the going gets tough. But the more diligent we are at walking with Jesus, the more godly we will become.
As we make improvements in these areas we will be better at showing brotherly kindness to those around us, and loving others the way Jesus taught – love that puts others needs ahead of our own.
Everything won’t happen in exactly this order or all at once. Many, probably all, of those steps will pop up again and again for us to work on, but they all lead to a closer walk with Christ and closer harmony with our Christian brothers and sisters. After all, would you ever want to be “ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?” Re-read the passage and especially note verse 8.
Father God, fill us up with your Spirit as we work our way through these steps so we won’t become discouraged. Keep our love strong for you so we can take each step with joy.