Preparing for Growth
II Peter 1:5-9
There has been much controversy in recent years concerning growth supplements in professional sports. In fact a report came out this past week alleging that some major names have been taking PED's. Over the years several high profile players have been suspended and fined enormous amounts of money for breaking the rules. A "supplement" is something that something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. Human Growth hormones and other Performance enhancing drugs are strictly banned in professional sports but some supplements are beneficial, legal and acceptable. Doctors may recommend certain dietary supplements to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities. These supplements include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Did you know that there are some spiritual growth supplements? They are found in our selected text. In these verses Peter says that we are to add certain things to our faith. The spiritual growth supplements are Virtue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness and Charity. We are directed to "make every effort to supplement our faith" with these things. When these supplements are added to our faith we will be effective and fruitful for the Lord.
Jesus told Nicodemas that “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) - Once a child is born he or she begins to grow. If there is no growth, there is no life! The same is true in the spiritual life. Once you are born again you begin to grow spiritually. If there is now growth...THERE IS NO LIFE! Our spiritual growth depends on our "spiritual diet". Many Christians have a Spiritual Diet that is unhealthy. There is too much of one thing and not enough of the other. I dare say that some Christians are spiritually anorexic. There is no growth because there is no consumption of spiritual things.
We must also acknowledge that we need spiritual growth to occur in our lives. We mustn’t be satisfied. Paul stated in Philippians 3:13a – “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended…” He realized and expressed the fact that he was not all he could nor should be spiritually yet. We must adopt the same attitude about spiritual growth if we will ever see it come to pass in our lives.
Looking at our text this morning, I would like to walk through these verses and consider some "Christian Growth Supplements". For those who have trusted in Christ as Savior there is some vital information concerning your spiritual growth and health. Peter says that we are to "give all diligence" to supplement our faith. This makes it clear that the things that follow are vital to our spiritual health.
II Peter 1:5-9
In Greek culture, the word used for "add to" was used in relation to a choirmaster. The choirmaster was more than a song leader. It was his duty to supply everything that his choir needed. He would have the music prepared. He would ensure that the instruments were tuned and ready. He lavishly supplied them with all that was needed for a splendid performance. In verses 3-4 we saw that God has lavishly provided us with all that is necessary for us to live a holy life for Him. Now we see that there is some personal responsibility required on our parts. Notice in verse 5…
I. Supplement # 1 Virtue - "add to your faith virtue"
We are to add to our faith... virtue. Virtue speaks of moral Excellency. Adding virtue to our faith requires us to read and study God's Word, follow God's Word, and allow His Word to transform our lives. When this happens we will live a morally pure life. We are expected to be pure physically, mentally & spiritually. A virtuous Christian is one who stands out as being morally excellent. If Christians act like the world, we do more harm for the cause of Christ than good. If the lost man sees no difference between themselves and us where is the incentive for them to listen when we share the gospel? If there is no moral character in our lives the lost man will be quick to charge us with hypocrisy.
Consider the damage done by the many pastors and evangelists who have been involved in extra-marital affairs. The world is watching us all, and we must make every attempt to supplement our faith with virtue.
- One day as a woman was crossing a street at London station, an old man stopped her. He said to her, "Excuse me, ma'am, but I want to thank you." She looked up and exclaimed, "Thank me?" He replied, "Yes ma’am, I used to be a ticket collector, and whenever you went by you always gave me a cheerful smile and a good morning. I knew that smile must come from inside somewhere. Then one morning I saw a little Bible in your hand. So I bought one, too, and I found out about Jesus from that Bible. Now I too am saved!” That man saw something in that woman that touched his heart. He saw Jesus living in and through her life. Each one of us, who are saved, should so live that the world can see Jesus in our lives. - (Source: Dr. Alan Carr Thesermonnotebook.com)
When we live virtuous lives, others will see Jesus in us. Do others see Jesus in the way that you act...at work...in the grocery store or the restaurant. ...How about when you are standing in line at the DMV? Everywhere we go we should be walking billboards for Jesus!
When we supplement our faith with virtue we will grow and mature as Christians. Notice also:
II. Supplement # 2 Knowledge - (add) to virtue knowledge
Knowledge is a proper understanding of the truth. Not only should we know the truth...the truth should have an impact on how we live. Knowledge is more than just information. Information is not enough.... We must apply the knowledge we receive to our lives. This means that we are to get into the Word and the Word must get into us! The growth supplement of knowledge must be comprehended and applied. - James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
When we are finished with this list of supplements you will find that they all work together. The virtue that we just examined is impossible without knowledge. In order to go where God would have us to go, do what He would have us to do, and to be what He would have us to be we must have a proper understanding of His will. We will find that understanding (knowledge) in the pages of His Holy Word.
Certain foods are vital to our physical health. If we do not consume them they cannot benefit us.
I teach nutrition classes to students in each elementary school, the middle school and I also do multiple adult classes as well. I give the individuals I present to a basic knowledge of foods they need to increase their intake of and some they need to decrease giving them the “why” of each. It’s always interesting to listen to the responses I get to say the least.
Just as certain foods are essential to our physical wellbeing, the Word of God is essential to our spiritual wellbeing, if we don’t consume it, it cannot benefit us! When we DO feast on the Word of God we will supplement our faith and we will grow spiritually!
Now look with me to verse 6 as we see:
III. Supplement # 3 Self Control - v6 (add) to knowledge temperance
Temperance is self-control. As Christians we are to control our flesh, our passions and our natural desires. We are to control these things, instead of them controlling us! Self-control is not reacting in the heat of the moment. Self-control is reacting the way Jesus would.
Several years ago, a huge fad going around had everyone wearing bracelets with the letters WWJD on them. WWJD stood for "What would Jesus do?" These bracelets were intended to remind you to ask how Jesus would respond to each situation that you would encounter.
Each day we encounter certain people, situations, & circumstances that require a response. You will be tempted to sin... will you resist that temptation or give in and disobey God? Someone cuts you off in traffic... will you tailgate them and honk your horn at them or will you respond gracefully? You are overlooked for a promotion at work... will you throw a fit and threaten to quit or will you give 100% in your current position? Suppose that someone does you wrong in some way... are you going to call them up and "give them a piece of your mind" or will you confront them in a gentile manner that reflects your relationship with Christ?
When you encounter situations such as these, ask yourself "How would Jesus respond?" You may say "it is impossible to react the way Jesus would!" If you react in the flesh IT IS impossible. But Temperance (self-control) is one of the gifts of the spirit (Galatians 5:23). This means that God has given you what you need, but in order to respond accordingly you must walk in the spirit instead of the flesh. In order to respond accordingly you must supplement your faith with self-control.
Verse 6 shows us another growth supplement that is essential to our growth. Notice:
IV. Supplement # 4 Steadfastness - "(add) to temperance patience"
Patience speaks of steadfastness or endurance. This refers to one who remains faithful even in the midst of fiery trials. Christ reminded us in Matthew 24:13 that “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Many Christians have given up because things got tough somewhere along the way. No matter what the circumstance, we must remain devoted to the Savior. The devil doesn't want you to grow... He will tempt you to quit. Even when the Lord orchestrates trials in your life Satan will use those trials as an opportunity to sway you! However; and thanks be to God – He will use these trials to grow you! To draw you nearer to Himself and show you His power.
I have personally had people tell me I'm about to give up on God. I've prayed and prayed for Him to take away my problems, but nothing has changed. Why doesn't God do something? I thought He was supposed to care about us.
There are many people facing difficulties today who are ready to give up! Some already have! This is not the proper response to difficulty...the proper response is steadfastness. - 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Steadfastness is a growth supplement that is vital.... It has an impact on all of the others. If you are not steadfast, you will lose the other supplements that are identified in these verses. Another supplement that we must have is:
V. Supplement # 5 Godliness - (add) to patience godliness
Godliness refers to the Christian who yields his actions and attitudes to the Lord. This is brought about by a reverent fear of God. This is one who loves, honors, adores, praises, worships and serves the Lord. In order to be godly we must possess humility. We must see ourselves for what we are and see God for Who He is! The godly Christian will strive please the Lord and Him alone.
Godliness requires obedience. Consider what Solomon said in - Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” - One of the great evidences of Christian growth is obedience. May we supplement our faith with Godliness. If we are ever going to grow in our walk and relationship with God, we must present ourselves as Godly people.
Moving on to verse 7 we see:
VI. Supplement # 6 Brotherly Affection - v7 (add) to godliness brotherly kindness
This brotherly love is as simple as obeying the great command of Jesus. - Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
As Christians we are to love our family, our friends, our co-workers, our school mates, the people we run into at the store, the people who live next door... we are to love them all Love THEM ALL! In fact we are even commanded to love our enemies. - Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
If you do not possess brotherly love, you need to examine your salvation! Remember what John said in - 1 John 4:20-21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (21) And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
We are to possess brotherly affection, but this verse take things one step further. We see the extent of this affection in the last growth supplement. Notice:
VII. Supplement # 7 Love - "(add) to brotherly kindness charity"
Charity here speaks of love. But not just any type of love, it refers to "agape love". "Agape" love is unconditional love. It is self-sacrificing love. It is never ending love. It is all encompassing love. It is unmerited love. Agape love is the love that Jesus possesses for us. It is the love that motivated Him to go to the Cross and die for us. This is the type of love that we should have for others. Agape love puts God first, others second and self-last.
Consider what Jesus says about love - John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Paul said - Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us...
John said - 1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
Everything that we do as a church must be rooted in love! Love For God and Love For Others. If you are saved it is because someone loved you enough to care about your eternal destiny. That love motivated them to point you to the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ. We must have that same love for each and every lost person that we encounter. If we really believe the Bible then we must believe that there is a literal burning Hell and that people are going there if they die without Jesus! Love is what will motivate us to do our part to point them to the Cross!
Agape love is unconditional... it is also not judgmental. It is not our place to condemn anyone ...REGARDLESS OF THEIR SITUATION! Regardless of their race, social standing, faults, failures or their actions. As Christians we must witness to the lost, reach out to the backslidden, disciple the believers and serve others. In order to do all of these things, there must be love! This is not just loving those who are easy to love!
Listen to the love that Paul had for a group of people who had caused him much harm - Romans 9:1-3 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Moses told God to blot his name out of the book if God did not forgive the sin of the Israelite people (Ex 32:32). Could you imagine having such love and such a burden for someone that you would be willing to sacrifice your place in Heaven so that they could be rescued from Hell? That is love!
Why is it athletes keep getting caught using these banned substances? Because they want to grow bigger and stronger... and they want to do it faster! Do not be deceived... There are no shortcuts to Spiritual growth and maturity. It is a long and difficult task and one that you must decisively make. It takes effort. You must become uncomfortable with where you currently stand spiritual prompting you to desire growth. I want you to ask yourself these questions today:
• Am I comfortable with my Bible study?
• Am I comfortable with my understanding of the Word?
• Am I comfortable with my prayer time?
• Am I comfortable with my personal and corporate worship?
• Am I comfortable with my current spiritual condition?
• Am I satisfied with my present experience with God?
There is always room for spiritual growth to occur in our lives. We should desire it and work to achieve it. We have been given everything we need to grow...Let us get to the task of adding to our faith with these growth supplements, we will be Prepared for Spiritual Growth.