Summary: Our pursuit for our spiritual growth calls for cooperation with God, commitment to grow and constancy in the process of growth.
We live in an instant world. We have instant noodles and instant coffee. Whenever we needed something, we can now have it delivered. We want to have what we want right here right now.
That instant mentality is carried over even in our Christian life. We want instant growth. We want instant maturity. But it doesn’t work that way. Spiritual growth is not automatic. Instead, it is a pursuit.
Let us read 2 Peter 1:5-7. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” This morning we will talk about “Our Pursuit for Our Growth.” Let us pray…
The story is told about a Christian who formed the words “LET GOD” using index cards, one index card per letter. Then, the wind blew away the letter “D.” So, now it reads, “LET GO.” The believer thought that he discovered the secret to the spiritual life: “Let go and let God.” It is true. But it is only half of the story. Yes, we need to surrender to God. But we must also seek to obey Him.
I have already mentioned to you that one of the best lessons in life that I learned is that we cannot do what God can do. But God will not do what we must do. We are in a partnership with God. The key is to discern which aspect of our Christian life is God’s part and which aspect is our part. God’s part and our part are like the two sides of the coin. They go together. But we cannot do God’s part and He will not do our part. The problem is when we try to do God’s part and fail to do our part. Keep in mind that God will do His part and we must do our part.
For example, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:20-21 that God equips us: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” But the Bible also tells us that the role of the pastor-teacher is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”. So, God equips us as we submit to the equipping of our church leaders.
We also see the interplay of God’s part and our part in Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Let me clarify first that this verse does not teach that we are saved by our good works. I heard Rick Warren explain it this way, “We don’t work for our body. We work out the body we already have.” So, here we are not told to work for our salvation. We are told that now that when we have accepted the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we are now to work out our salvation. Now that we are saved, we are to live in obedience to God. Our part is to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling”. God’s part is to work in us “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” I like how the Contemporary English Version translated verse 13: “God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.” Since God is working in us so we can obey, we must now obey.
That is also the main flow of our passage. Let us read 2 Peter 1:5-7 again. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”
Note the words “For this very reason”. It points us back to verses 3 and 4: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” Those verses described what God had already done for us. God already gave us the resources for our pursuit for growth. God did His part. Therefore, verse 5 tells us, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith”. We must now do our part.