Faith and Love. Without the first, we cannot begin our journey with God, and if we do not live according to the latter, then we are failing in our walk with Christ. Have you ever thought about how many steps there are between these two principles? In 2nd Peter, the apostle contemplates the diligence it takes to become “partakers of the divine nature,” in other words, closer to God. If you study 2nd Peter 1:5-7, you’ll discover just how many steps we must go through in order to grow from faith to Godly love.
These are the steps from faith to love:
- Moral excellence
- Brotherly Kindness
Even a quick glance at this list shows us how one step builds on another, and also how much more difficult each next step would be if we had not first worked on mastering the one before it. “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing,” Peter concludes, “they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.8).
We should contemplate these steps if we truly want to grow in Christ. By faith, we believe and are motivated to do what is pleasing and right to God. When we approach His word for knowledge with the goal of knowing God’s morals better, not as a way to justify what we want to do, we increase our moral excellence. Only when we have a growing knowledge of God’s word and His will, can we begin to practice the self-control that keeps us from judging other people or giving in to our own worldly desires. Having to be of the world but not in it requires perseverance, and only when we are strong in our ability to hold out against the pull of this world and its desires do we reach any level of Godliness. When we can learn not to give in to the desires of the flesh, we are better able to practice the brotherly kindness which is the beginning of Godly love.
Obviously, this isn’t a simple or quick process, but a life-long journey. It helps me not to beat up on myself quite so much when I stumble considering the complexity of a life lived like Christ. I am also reminded anew how grateful I am that it is the grace of God that saves us and not our works, even though my faith in God leads me to want to do good, fruitful works.