I have one rule for the small black couch in my living room: Don’t sit on it during work hours. The fake leather melts around me like a marshmallow, and sitting there more than five minutes causes me to slip off to a place where even coffee doesn’t dare to go.
That couch is “grace” to a lot of us. It’s where you believe in Jesus and relax, waiting to die and go to heaven so you’ll get to see your Aunt Hilda and other folks you mostly didn’t enjoy visiting while here on earth.
If this really sounds like your Christian life, it ain’t what the Apostles had in mind.
Peter said, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith” (2 Pet. 1:5 NKJV). Now that you’re saved, you’re supposed to be attentively committed to your own spiritual formation. Strange that in a book where we’ve been hammering devotion to Christ, I’m ending on the note of being committed to yourself. It makes sense, though. The Holy Spirit is doing a difficult, ongoing work in your soul to change you into the likeness of Christ. You should cooperate. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to do an incredible thing for you and you in turn ignoring it…or resisting it.
You’re supposed to “add to your faith virtues.” First, let’s get this straight: For eternal salvation—deliverance from the lake of fire, a position in the family of God, forgiveness of sins, everlasting life— you don’t have to add anything. But for spiritual formation, you do. Expect to participate in your own daily growth by adding virtues. Peter mentions them generically here. Paul called them the “whatever’s”—Whatever is pure, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure , whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise…” (Phil. 4:8).
I’ll be blunt. Without virtues, you won’t look anything like Jesus. In fact, you’ll look exactly the opposite. How sad when after years, the saved person still looks grossly unlike the Savior. I once saw a tee-shirt that said,
Jesus loves you!
Everybody else thinks you’re a jerk.
This disconnect shouldn’t exist. Be prepared to get on board with the Holy Spirit’s program of transforming you into His image—a whole-life project where He gives you the power, arranges your environment…and you add.
But that’s not all. Peter goes on to say we should add to our virtue knowledge. I need to be more than just a good guy. I should know things—specifically, whatever will assist me in navigating my spiritual journey. That includes the knowledge of God and Scripture, of myself and other people, and anything at all I might need to live and grow and minister in this world.
Without knowledge you’re a naïve good guy whose spiritual growth will look like a thirty-year-old with a third grade diploma. Don’t just sit there. Educate yourself. Pay attention to the lessons of life around you. Read the Bible. Read good books that strengthen your faith. Meet people and listen to them. Take note of what gets you into trouble, of where you shine, and of what you need. Keep that learning attitude and you’ll never stop advancing.
There’s more, though…
(I took this last post for Hands Full of Christ and broke it up into a few shorter ones, so, yes, there’ll be a little more).