Summary: Developing character qualities that have to do with my relationship with the God above me.
Christian Character Development:
"The Particulars Of Christian Character Development"
God’s people get in trouble when they fail to act like they are God’s people! That’s why Peter wrote in our passage for today about Christian character development.
Two Sundays ago, we began looking to this passage to see what Peter had to say to us about developing Christ-like character. We first considered what he had to say about the priority of Christian character development. We discovered five reason listed by Peter as to why developing Christ-like character should be a priority for the Child of God. When I make Christian character development my daily pursuit . . .
it will insure that my life is not wasted (v. 8);
it will insure my proper appreciation of salvation (v. 9);
it will present a positive witness to others (v. 10a);
it will prevent me from bringing reproach to the name of Christ (v. 10b);
and it will guarantee a rich welcome upon entering heaven (v. 11).
We next looked at the path of Christian character development. We found that Peter tells us . . .
it begins with a personal and growing knowledge of Christ (vs. 1-3);
it continues through reliance on God’s power and promises (vs. 3-4);
and it leads to real life change from the inside out (v. 4).
Now today, I want us to move on to consider the particulars of Christian Character development. Peter is very specific concerning what character qualities we should seek to develop as a Christian if we are going to progress toward Christ-likeness (vs.. 5-7).
We note that as Peter gives us this list of Christian character qualities, he seems to list them in a particular order. Faith comes first, followed by goodness, then knowledge, to which we add self-control, then perseverance, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, and finally, love.
While we are told that we are to "possess these qualities in increasing measure" (v. 8), it would seem that Peter is specific about what character qualities we are to pursue and in what order.
Upon careful consideration, we see that the first three character qualities (faith, goodness, and knowledge) have to do with my relationship with the God above me. The second three (self-control, perseverance, and godliness) have to do with my relationship with the world about me. The last two character qualities (brotherly kindness and love) have to with my relationship with the people around me.
As we consider each of the Christian character qualities Peter mentions here, we will also look at how they are linked to one another. Today, let’s look at the first three which have to do with my relationship with the God above me - faith , goodness, and knowledge.
1. Faith - v. 5
The first characteristic of the growing Christian has a uniqueness to it - because the Christian is not instructed to supply faith. Faith is a given, something upon which the Christian builds. According to Peter, the readers of this epistle are those who "have received a faith as precious as ours" (v. 1). Faith is something we have received, not something we are to supply - because faith is a gift from God.
"God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." - Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
But I cannot be content with having received my "fire insurance." As wonderful a thing as it is to know that through having received God’s gift of eternal life through faith in Christ, I should move beyond the gift of faith to developing a growing faith, which is what Peter is talking about here. Faith in Christ is the beginning, it is the foundation. If you have not come to a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot possibly pursue the course Peter describes here.
But if you have saving faith, you must not content yourself with that alone. Salvation is not so much about God taking me to be with Him in heaven one day as it is about God bring heaven to me today. There are tremendous blessing that God wants to bestow upon His children - heavenly blessings - but the degree to which we experience the blessings of heaven on earth is determined by the degree to which we progress toward developing Christ-like character.
Through faith in Christ, we have received a new nature whereby we can live a life uncorrupted by the evil influences of the world. Through faith in Christ, we have received everything we need to live in a godly fashion.
Through the promises of God’s Word, we can learn more and more about all we have through faith in Christ and the new life we can now live. Everything I need to lived a blessed life through developing Christ-like character is available to me. "For this very reason," Peter says, I should "make every effort" to add to my faith and progress toward Christ-likeness. Peter says we should add to our faith . . .