5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For 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.
  2 Peter 1:5-8

I’ve always been fascinated with this passage. Several things give me pause.

Make Every Effort
First, the passage begins with the phrase “make every effort” – in other words, I’m supposed to apply myself to this, not to expect it to happen by osmosis. Simply being around other Christians isn’t going to do it. Simply reading my Bible and praying isn’t going to do it. I’m to make every effort – work at it…and if one thing doesn’t work, try something else.

A Progression
Second, I think the progression is interesting…
     Begin with faith
       Add to that goodness
         Add knowledge
           Add self control
             Add perseverance (some versions say “patient endurance”)
               Add godliness (the Greek word also means “holiness”)
                 Add brotherly kindness
                   Add love

When I first came to faith in Christ, my desires changed and it was easy to begin to add goodness to that faith. I wanted to know more and more about Christ, so study – adding knowledge – was also easy. And as I learned more about what God’s standards were, I began to realize areas in which I needed to exercise self control. All came somewhat easy at first. Then the easy got a bit harder…either because I had gotten tired of being good or God was giving me opportunities to increase my goodness by putting more challenging situations in my path that allowed me to practice goodness. That’s when I needed to add perseverance.

Practicing perseverance isn’t fun, but there’s an element of perseverance in our pursuit of God that leads to godliness. God rewards our diligence, our pressing on or holding on, through enabling us (gracing us) with an apprehension of some degree of godliness. This is where transformation starts to take hold in our lives and it leads to brotherly kindness and love.

Please don’t think I’ve attained it. I said that it came easy at first, and then I needed to practice perseverance. That was true…and it continues to be true over and over again. God continually brings more challenging situations into my life to allow me to grow in each of these areas…so long as I continue to “make every effort.”

A Promise
I love verse 8 – “For (because) if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…” Wow! This is a prescription for living a life that impacts those around us!

I don’t know about you, but I want the world to be a little different because I’ve lived in it. I want to have a positive impact on some lives. I want to know that some people are closer to Christ because they crossed my path. This verse promises me that if I continue to make every effort to increase in these qualities that I will be effective.

Make It Real
Phil and I were leading a Bible study on 2 Peter a while back and after our discussion of this passage, one person said “I know this, but I so quickly forget it. I get busy in my day and I forget to add goodness or perseverance or love. How can we remember these things in our hectic, every day life?” I can identify with this. We offered some of the usual suggestions, but I wasn’t satisfied with any of them. And her question got me thinking (again) about my own life…had I become lax in “making every effort.” The answer was probably “yes.” So I started praying for each quality, one each day, beginning at the top of the list and working my way to the bottom, then starting over. I found that to be almost disingenuous. I felt like I was giving it a cursory treatment, not truly making an effort.

So I begin to pray for each quality for a week. I prayed for God to increase faith the first week. The second week I prayed for Him to help me increase my goodness. Focusing on only one quality for a week was good. The daily repetition begin to sink in and by day three or four I would find myself remembering during the day to “add goodness” to whatever I was doing. That goodness might have simply taken the form of remembering to let someone else in front of me at the grocery store (or at least not knocking them down trying to beat them to the front of the line) or opening a door for someone or smiling more. But little things are the place to start. At the end of the second week I was feeling pretty good about having a handle on goodness…until I realized that I’d been on vacation all week – if it’s not easy to practice goodness during your vacation, it’s sure not going to be easy to practice it at home. So I decided to continue practicing goodness a second week.

Well, the (not so) short story is that it’s been about eight weeks since that Bible study. I’m up to self control. Yes, I’ve been stuck on this quality for about three weeks, but I’m not leaving it until I feel a release from God to move on. But I am seeing the qualities increasing in myself by small measures. And that’s a very good thing.

So give it a try. Commit to praying for one of the qualities each morning for a week or more. Ask God to help you grow in that quality during the day. He’ll do it. The Holy Spirit will whisper in your ear when situations come up for you to practice using the quality. Regular practice will lead to godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Not to mention a life that has left an impact on the world around you.

One Response to “An Effective Life”
  1. Lisa says:


    Once again, you’ve hit me in the heart. Very powerful reminder. Thanks!!

© copyright 2009-2013, Data Designs Publishing and Sandra J. Hovatter