Glad you asked! So many times we fall prey to thinking that faith is all we need. Or perhaps we fall into those seasons where discouragement settles in and we feel like we have lost tracking. God has given us, through the apostle Peter, some clear ways to cultivate a faith that is effective and enduring.
2 Peter 1 not only offers us an imperative exhortation to “make every effort” to “supplement” our faith with certain disciplines and attitudes, but it also presents us with some warnings of what would happen if we do not do so.
The apostle Peter urges us to supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.
If you are like me, I need some synonyms to help me understand some of these seven nouns. So here are some aides…
Virtue = excellence that is acceptable or pleasing.
Self-control=seize, arrest, self-control
Steadfastness=remain, patient endurance, stay
Godliness=devotion, piety, reverence
Brotherly affection=brotherly or friend love
Love=unconditional “God” love
These are the disciplines and attitudes that help us cultivate our faith in God. Comparing this list to Galatians 5:22 reveals that things like self-control, patience, faithfulness and love are fruits the Holy Spirit generates in us—they are qualities we can’t produce on our own. So we do need God to work these things out in us.
The importance of supplementing our faith with these qualities is highlighted by the following statement:
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind” (verses 8-9).
Did you hear the sobering truth expressed by Peter? If we lack the qualities listed above, we become useless and unproductive in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. So it is possible to have a faith that is, sort of, futile. He goes further in saying that there is a kind of faith that is shortsighted or blind—the kind of faith that lacks these qualities.
The good news is that if we posses these qualities and they are increasing in our lives, we will be effective, fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and we will have a more clear sight of reality.
I can’t read what Peter is saying and not be prompted to evaluate my heart to see where I am in terms of these qualities. As we do an honest assessment we can then lean on the grace of God to meet us in our places of need. He already “cleansed us from our former sins” (v.9) to show us that He can do the rest of the work needed in us!