5For 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; 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 (NIV)

The phrase that grabs me in this passage is the title of this blog – “make every effort.” But before we get there, we have to deal with the beginning of verse 5. “For this very reason” the verse begins. What reason? Check out yesterday’s blog for more, but the synopsis is that God has given us everything we need so that we can participate in His nature and escape the corruption of the world. Whew! That’s quite a gift and quite a promise. And as a response to that gift, we’re to “make every effort.” Not because of an unpaid debt, although we clearly have one, but because of our appreciation for what He has done and our love for Him. He has given so much for us, we are to “make every effort” to live in the way that pleases Him.

That means living godly lives – faithful, good, self-controlled, consistent, kind, loving lives. During a recent study of this passage with a small group, someone asked if there was a logical progression to the characteristics we’re to display. I think there is, but I don’t think it’s absolute. The order they’re presented here makes sense to me… but God has a way of working outside the box. The point is that He is working and we should be responding to that working by making every effort to improve in each area.

Growth doesn’t happen simply from reading about it. It happens when we make a decision to respond to what we’re reading. It happens when we work toward becoming the person God wants us to be.

I love verse 8. It is probably one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It holds a promise that is important to me. If we possess these qualities in increasing measure they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus. I want my life to count for something. Possessing these qualities in increasing measure ensures that. They will keep me from being ineffective and unproductive. Let’s put it in the positive: They will help me to be effective and productive – they will help me to accomplish the purposes God has for my life.

I’ve been careful to reiterate the phrase “in increasing measure” each time I’ve cited the verse. That’s because I think we can get stalled out at any point and it’s at those times that we begin to lose our effectiveness. Paul repeatedly talks about the importance of finishing the race well. That only happens if we make every effort on to increase in our Christ-likeness an ongoing basis. When we retire from pursuing those qualities, we retire from effectively serving God. We lose our purpose. We become ineffective and unproductive.

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:9 (NIV)

Those who don’t have the qualities described in verses 5 through 7 are nearsighted and blind. We have forgotten what God has done for us. We’re no longer productive and effective. We’re groping around for a purpose and a plan. Lack of spiritual maturity blinds us. Growing in Christ brings vision.

We don’t want to be like that. Peter didn’t want the first century Christians to be like that:

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)

Oh friends – because growing in these qualities makes you productive and effective and not having them makes you nearsighted and blind, be all the more eager to make your calling sure. God is the One who has called us, “by His own glory and goodness” (see the previous blog for more on this), but we confirm that calling through the walking out of our faith – changed attitudes and behaviors. Continuing in Christ, we have a “rich welcome” waiting for us at the end of this road. A welcome that begins our eternal life in the kingdom of our Lord.

We can be nearsighted and blind – without a plan or purpose – or we can make every effort to grow in qualities that help us to become more like Christ.

Let me encourage you as Peter encouraged first century believers – make every effort.

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