Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 12, 2012

"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" II Peter 1:5-6
My little dog can jump up on my bed even though it is about three times his height! And cats are able to jump from the floor to the top of the fridge though it towers above the cat's height.
Either one of those would be equivalent to you or I leaping up into a three or four story window. I really can't see that happening!
Perhaps that explains why ladders and stairs were invented for us humans. We can scale heights 10 or twelve inches at a time.
In the same way, I have never known anyone who could jump from becoming a new believer in Christ to becoming a fully mature spiritual giant in one big faith leap. Spiritual growth and maturity happens one faith step at a time.
Peter traces those steps for us in II Peter 1:5-7. We have been studying those steps recently but we have not yet tied each of those individual steps into a staircase to maturity. There is a significance to the order of these virtues.
Of course, it all begins with faith for faith initiates the personal relationship with God through Christ.
On the foundation of that faith relationship is to be added "Goodness". Goodness is the moral courage to apply your faith to daily challenges of living. As James declares in his epistle, "Faith without works is dead".
To moral courage is to be added Knowledge. Knowledge is the wisdom and insight that grows out of your relationship with Christ. Knowledge is knowing what pleases God and combined with Goodness, helps you to do what honors Him.
The third step on the way to spiritual maturity is Self-Control. Self-Control means "getting a grip" on your life. You must discipline the fleshly passions and desires so that the faith virtues can be unleashed through you.
Next is Perseverance, the ability to be steadfast in the face of sore trials. In fact, the original word "hupomone" means to endure difficulties in such a way as to turn it for good. Perseverance believes I Corinthians 10:13 and lives according to it - "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
A fifth step to be added is "Godliness" or sincere worship of God that is evidenced by a godly witness.Godliness is the culmination of "faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control and perseverance" being active in your life. "Godliness" must be shown in your attitudes as well as in your actions.
Puppies can leap and cats can REALLY leap but Christians can't. But that doesn't mean we cannot make it the top in our spiritual maturity. It does mean that we must make steady progress step-by-step in our walk of faith.
How are you doing? Are you making steady progress? Which step do you think you are on?