2 Peter 1:3-12
1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
2 Peter is written to believers as an exhortation to stand true in the Christian beliefs. From the above passages, it is clear Peter had a sincere desire that the audience he was addressing in the epistle would
- obtain the blessings of the promises of God (v 4),
- escape the influences of the world (v 4),
- grow in their Christian walk (v 5-7),
- be effective in their ministry - winning others to Christ and not forgetting their own salvation experience (v 8-9),
- be strong in their own times of trouble (v 10), and
- have a final reward for a battle successfully fought (v 11).
It is the same desire of every pastor of a church today, and should also be the desire of each of our hearts for our fellow Christians. The portion of scripture I will be emphasizing is the middle section - comprising verses 5 through 7. This section has been called the spiritual addition equation of the Bible. The elements of the equation are simple in their presentation. The order in which they are given presents a path of Christian development that we must take to be effective in the Christian battle.
The Basic Foundation - Faith
So what is first?
2 Peter 1:5
1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith ...
The first item mentioned - which you must have before the addition process can even begin - is faith.
What is faith? According to a dictionary definition, faith is:
faith n, pl faiths [ME feith, fr. OF feid, foi, fr. L fides; akin to L fidere to trust--more at bide] (13c) 1 a: allegiance to duty or a person: loyalty b (1): fidelity to one's promises (2): sincerity of intentions 2 a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust 3: something that is believed esp. with strong conviction; esp: a system of religious beliefs syn see belief -- in faith : without doubt or question: verily
Faith, belief in the triune God and His plan of salvation of sinners declared in the Bible, and the person's acting on that plan and accepting Christ into their heart is the bedrock that must be present in a life before any of these other items can be effective. This message is to Christians who have taken that initial step of faith. If you haven't accepted Christ into your heart, you must begin there.
Without God at the center of the heart most of these other items just fall into the category of trying to live a good life or to do good works. These aren't bad things, and can occasionally even do some good in some situations. But they won't save you. Until God has touched the heart, and begun to illuminate the problems and flaws of character and lifestyle that must be changed to be His child, it is useless to try to add any other ingredients. -infinity + 1 is still -infinity. We'll take the ingredients one at a time and examine what they mean and why they are placed where they are in order of priority.
The Ingredients to Add
2 Peter 1:5
1:5 ... add to your faith virtue; ...
The first item to be added is virtue.
vir.tue n [ME virtu, fr. OF, fr. L virtut-, virtus strength, manliness, virtue, fr. vir man--more at virile] (13c) 1 a: conformity to a standard of right: morality b: a particular moral excellence 2 pl: an order of angels--see celestial hierarchy 3: a beneficial quality or power of a thing 4: manly strength or courage: valor 5: a commendable quality or trait: merit 6: a capacity to act: potency 7: chastity esp. in a woman -- vir.tue.less adj -- by virtue of or in virtue of : through the force of: by authority of
There are two basic classes of virtues - the first is one that I hadn't really thought about before as being associated with the word virtue. Yet it is the first type of virtue listed in the dictionary description.
theological virtue n (1526): one of the three spiritual graces faith, hope, and charity drawing the soul to God according to scholastic theology
This virtue comes from the Holy Spirit, and is part of the description of forces drawing us to Christ in the first place. After the initial salvation experience, the Holy Spirit continues the work in the trying times immediately after salvation to keep the desire for Christ strong in our lives. Have no doubts. There is spiritual warfare going on over every soul in God's kingdom. Once you accept Christ as your Savior, you are enlisted in that battle on God's side, and the forces of Satan are arrayed against you.
6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Although Satan is actively trying to destroy all Christians by whatever means he can, he particularly goes after the newly saved. There are a few primary reasons for this.
- First, they will be fighting a battle with their former selves - the things they may have done, the places they may have gone... Some of their attitudes, feelings, and desires for the things in the world are still real in their hearts. Their old attitudes about God, the Church, and Christians may still be lurking around as well.
Satan does his best to try to place doubts in the new believers mind that he isn't really saved or that Christ's blood isn't really enough to cover what the person had done before. It is far easier for Satan to entice a new convert away than one who has been saved a long time. It isn't impossible for him to do that at any time, it is just harder the closer to God we draw.
- Secondly, the change in the lifestyle of a new believer - particularly one who wasn't raised in the church - is the best witness for God among the people who knew the person before salvation. Anything Satan can do to destroy or falsify that salvation experience and prevent more of his captives from being lost to God - Satan will try to do.
- Finally, they are not well grounded in their new beliefs. It is simply easier for Satan to make attacks because they don't know how to defend themselves and they don't have a good awareness of the help God will be to them if they ask for it.
Two things to remember.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13
10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You won't make it on your own. If you trust in the Holy Spirit, He will show you how to escape from the tempter's snare. That is true for new Christians and those who have been Christians for many years. That is the true will of God - to escape Satan's snare. The way to escape isn't to fall from grace and ask forgiveness for your mistake. There is always another way if you seek it. Too often, we - and I am including myself as well - don't look for the escape route - we presume on God's mercy and grace to continue to forgive us. He is merciful - but He also has limits and may chasten his children who presume on Him too much.
Also remember that God is on our side. In the end, nothing can separate us from the love of God. That love of God is true and lasting for his human creation from the time they are born until they stand before Him at judgment. Only our own self can control whether we turn our backs on that love or whether we turn to Him.
The other type of virtue from a dictionary definition is the more commonly thought list of
cardinal virtues n (14c) 1: one of the four classically defined natural virtues prudence, justice, temperance, or fortitude 2: a quality designated as a major virtue
pru.dence n [ME, fr. MF, fr. L prudentia, alter. of providentia--more at providence] (14c) 1: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason 2: sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs 3: skill and good judgment in the use of resources 4: caution or circumspection as to danger or risk
jus.tice n [ME, fr. OE & OF; OE justice, fr. OF justice, fr. L justitia, fr. justus] (12c) 1 a: the maintenance or administration of what is just esp. by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments b: judge c: the administration of law; esp: the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity 2 a: the quality of being just, impartial, or fair b (1): the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action (2): conformity to this principle or ideal: righteousness c: the quality of conforming to law 3: conformity to truth, fact, or reason: correctness
for.ti.tude n [ME, fr. L fortitudin-, fortitudo, fr. fortis] (12c) 1: strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage 2 obs: strength
Each of these cardinal virtues has many facets and manifestations when applied to an individual life.
Dake comments (269-3 *) that:
Gr. aretas, virtues. The virtues Christians are to show before men are the perfections of wisdom, knowledge, justice, truth, love, patience, holiness, goodness, grace, joy, peace, faith, and other attributes and powers of the Divine Trinity. These virtues are to be demonstrated by Christians to angels and men.
The following are some scriptures to give more clarity about what it means to be virtuous in the scripture - both as direct examples and as counterpoints:
4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
After the initial salvation experience, the Holy Spirit continues to work in your life. Generally, the initial salvation experience is able to eliminate the grossest desires and sinful leanings from our hearts. The easiest are those sins or habits that the person knew in their hearts were wrong even when they were a sinner. Reading again from Romans:
2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. [hearing what is right will not save you - you must do what is right]
2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
There may still be some habits that are hard to break. There may still be problems years into your walk with God. There shouldn't be, but there may be. As conditions in your life change, old habits and thought patterns may return without constant vigilance. New problems may continually come about which will test and stretch your commitment to continue to live a virtuous life. Friends, dating, marriage, divorce, new children, young children, teen-age children, married children, grandchildren, death, work, rest, and material things all serve to present new situations and obstacles that can change how you have usually reacted in situations. As an example, I rarely raised my voice at all in times past. Now I have a two-year old who is gleefully performing the duties of a two-year old and stretching every limit to just past the breaking point of mother and father almost daily. Not just one limit daily, but every one she can think of - and several times a day if she finds one she has forgotten for a while. Just as little kids, we don't like fixed rules and are always looking for the loopholes and exceptions in living a morally correct and upright life.
The Holy Spirit will continue to uncover inner character flaws or areas needing attention if you listen to His prompting. He will continue this process until your walk is perfect in God's sight. God doesn't expect the impossible from his children. Just as we don't expect our children to start reading and writing at age one, God won't put unreasonable demands on us. He will prompt us to change what He knows we are able to change at the earliest moment. It is up to us - with God's help (and I can't stress that enough) - to begin the cleansing work of all our years of sin. A restored life - like a restored picture - will never look exactly the same as the original picture would have looked if we had taken care of it. But the restoration process must be done. Working on Christian virtues is a good place to begin.
To lead a completely virtuous walk is not impossible - merely impossible without accepting Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to control your life. Jesus Christ was God. Yet when He came down from heaven to be born of Mary, He emptied himself of His divinity. It did not change the reality that He was God - the Bible states that He was specifically given the power by God to lay his life down and take it up again. Not only did angels minister to Him after His temptation, they were probably standing by to rescue Him from the hands of man and deal with sinful humanity directly if He would have chosen to have the cup pass from Him instead of carrying out the Father's will.
Christ voluntarily chose to forgo all divine attributes and limit Himself to human attributes and powers while on Earth so that He could be an example to all men. The only difference between His life and ours was that He was fathered by the Holy Spirit so He could be a sinless sacrifice on the cross if he withstood the wiles of Satan. The standards of the New Testament would have meant much less if the only way they could be met was by a man using divine attributes. He led His life as a human man - overcoming temptation and being the first who was filled with the Spirit without measure to do battle with and defeat Satan. By succeeding in meeting the standards He was preaching, He finished the plan of God for salvation for His creation.
That same Holy Spirit - complete with the gifts of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12-14 - which allowed Christ to do the miracles, healings, spiritual discernment, have the special knowledge and wisdom that He had while on Earth, is available to help us in our walk. We simply must make the decision to seek His help and try to live a virtuous life in all aspects. Is this more difficult the closer you walk with God? Certainly - Satan leads attacks on all Christians, and will try to tear down those close to God, those near God, and those new to God. The path is not impossible to tread. A study of many of the patriarchs and Job would give contrasts and similarities about walking and stumbling on the road to living a virtuous life. Yet they did not have the fullness of the Holy Spirit available. Only some of the Old Testament individuals even received the Spirit in measure. With Him, what was once impossible in the human realm alone becomes possible. We just have to submit to His leading.
2 Peter 1:5
1:5 ... add to virtue knowledge; ...
The next item to be added after virtue is knowledge. What is a definition of knowledge?
knowl.edge n [ME knowlege, fr. knowlechen to acknowledge, irreg. fr. knowen] (14c) 1 obs: cognizance 2 a (1): the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2): acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique b (1): the fact or condition of being aware of something (2): the range of one's information or understanding <answered to the best of my ~> c: the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning: cognition d: the fact or condition of having information or of being learned <a man of unusual ~> 3 archaic: sexual intercourse 4 a: the sum of what is known: the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by mankind b archaic: a branch of learning
The Holy Spirit is your best and most immediate source of pricking your conscience when you err. But the work of the Holy Spirit can be greatly enhanced by adding knowledge to your life. For the Christian, the source of knowledge is the Bible. Other books can help provide guidance if you need it, but should never become a substitute for learning from God's word. If you pick among the mainline translations that are available, then the translation of the Bible you choose to use as a primary reference isn't important. Choose a translation that you find easy to read and that you find speaks to your heart most easily. For the new Christian, this, above all else, should be the primary criteria. Some new translations do have some potentially disturbing changes to scripture, and I can't just give a blanket endorsement of all translations. Check with the pastor or other long time Christian if you need a list of Bibles that have stood the test of time. Then go to the book store and read some of the same Gospel and Old Testament passages that you are familiar with in each to get a feel of what is best for you.
For older Christians who have read the Bible through several times, it may be appropriate to try different translations, or - like me - you may be bound particularly to one translation simply because your preferred Bible commentator did his work using it.
The point of the study of scripture is to reinforce what the Holy Spirit is telling you about how to perfect your walk. It gives detailed examples of people who did both right and wrong, and the blessing and consequences that followed. These may have been godly men or evil men. God is eternal and unchanging. His standards are the same yesterday, today, and forever. The means to grace, given as type in the Jewish faith described in the Old Testament and in the living description of Christ's work in the New Testament, will uplift you and guide you in your daily walk. By reading about the things that God has done for His people, your mind will be opened with the possibilities of what He wants to do for His children today.
It also provides instruction and direction in what is right for your life, and is your absolute guide to Church doctrine and policy. If you hear instruction that seems to be wrong to you - check it out in the Bible. Teachers and pastors may make innocent mistakes, or may simply not have studied a topic thoroughly enough. The Holy Spirit will be your guide in illuminating scripture and placing your feet on a solid Biblical foundation. If a pastor or teacher errs deliberately, they will have to answer for that. Nonetheless, in this day and age, a member of the class or congregation who has ready access to the scripture is responsible for knowing what is right and wrong as well. The same Spirit that helps guide pastors and teachers in the correct divining of the word of truth will help you as well.
It will also strengthen you and provide a solid basis for helping others who are hurting. Too often, human nature drives us to do more than we are yet ready to do - and that is a reason for the simple arithmetic lesson Peter gives in these scriptures.
The following are some scriptures about study.
2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Peter 1:6
1:6 Add to knowledge temperance; ...
tem.per.ance n [ME, fr. L temperantia, fr. temperant-, temperans, prp. of temperare to moderate, be moderate] (14c) 1: moderation in action, thought, or feeling: restraint 2 a: habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions b: moderation in or abstinence from the use of intoxicating drink
As you grow in knowledge of what is right and wrong by study of scripture illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and listen to instruction from God and others, the next thing that is to be added is temperance. The items with which you must have temperance may vary with each person based on what has gone on before in that individual's life. In an individual, it may change as the person ages or grows in Christ. An older athlete - while reminiscing about the days when he practiced for the marathon daily - may regret not having the stamina to do that any more, but is beyond having to worry about training taking up too much of his time. He has grown out of the needs and desires of his youth. In effect, his aged body has provided the temperance for him.
Do No Wrong
Some would say that temperance is simply about never doing any wrong. That is certainly one side of it. You will have to depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and studies of the Bible to guide you in what is absolutely wrong for you. The Bible gives many guidelines in both the Old and the New Testament of absolute sins and clearly states that the people who commit these sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God. For example, Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian church was addressing a specific problem that existed in the Church. As part of the letter in chapter 6 he states:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Certainly, these sins are listed in their fullest forms. However, as the Gospels provide record of Jesus' teaching on the subject, even our thoughts will be judged. These can lead to the same effective condition in our minds as if we had done some of these deeds ourselves.
Don't Do Things to Excess
These scriptures speak directly to the ``do no wrong'' side of temperance. The other side of temperance - not doing something that is right to excess, is addressed in the next passages. The Holy Spirit will guide your heart away from things that would lead you to fall, regardless of whether they may be acceptable for someone else.
1 Corinthians 6:12-13
6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them.
Paul wasn't saying that he could do anything he wanted to do in these scriptures. Only that the Christian is given freedom to live a life before God that is temperate and acceptable to God and should not come under the power of any thing. Sin is still sin.
In addition to the items we are required to be temperate in by scripture, and the ones that our own personal makeup require us to be temperate in to prevent backsliding, there are additional situational forms. These may be based on who you are with, or who is observing you, and you have to be particularly sensitive to this because of the following admonition of the scripture:
Romans 14:13-15, 20, 21
14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
14:20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. [Meaning those who do a work with the intention of destroying God's work in someone's life.]
14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
To give a couple of examples - I have a pool table in the family room. I have had no convictions about pool at all. To me it is just another game and I don't get much chance to play. Nonetheless, there are some Christians for whom pool halls have been an entry to other forms of sin when they were younger who feel adamantly about this and decry it as a horrible evil. That doesn't mean that I need to take the pool table out and burn it. It does mean that I shouldn't invite someone who feels strongly about it to play a game of 9-ball with me. Other classic problems in church circles involve card playing. That doesn't seem to be a problem here, but was with many people in the church I came from. Again, be sensitive to the place fellow Christians are in their walk with God. In verse 15 of Romans, Paul states that we should not destroy a person with our meat. He isn't saying that we should become vegetarians for life. This principle can be applied to many things in our daily lives.
Alcohol .vs. Drunkenness
Another classic example of something generally condemned by most churches is alcohol. It and its effects are mentioned many times in scripture:
- The many words translated as wine in the Bible make it difficult to tell when grape juice or fermented wine is being referred to. This is one reason churches simply take the blanket approach and say don't drink. It is the safest course. My only problem with this is that I personally feel that our children are good at checking things out in scripture themselves. When we lay out our own standards about what we think a Christian life should be, people will want to know what it is based on. When we can't back up the teaching with scripture, we weaken the rest of the standards appreciably.
Alcohol is a classic case. The Holy Spirit must guide each believer who isn't under a particular restriction by their church office in this manner. Some people simply have no tolerance for it. For them, they must remain temperate. For others, it could be a stumbling block. This could also apply in particular situations. There can be no doubt, however, that drunkenness is a sin and cannot exist in any Christian walk. In addition, as in the selections from Romans above, we can not allow our own conduct to be a stumbling block for someone else.
5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
- There was also wide variation in the various offices of the church recorded in scripture. Here was a portion of the Nazarite vow:
Numbers 6:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD:
6:3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
6:4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
With Samson, who was to be a Nazarite from the womb, the admonition pertained even to the mother:
13:3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
13:4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
13:5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
Certainly, with today's knowledge of the effects of alcohol on the fetus, this is good advice for any mothers.
- Bishops or elders are admonished to not drink any wine
3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
- Deacons are admonished to not drink much wine
3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Some last words of direction and encouragement about temperance in the rest of the scripture:
1 Corinthians 9:25
1 Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Titus 1:8, 2:2
1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; (Speaking of bishops).
2:2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
2 Peter 1:6
1:6 and to temperance patience; ...
pa.tience n (13c) 1: the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient 2 chiefly Brit: solitaire 2 pa.tient adj [ME pacient, fr. MF, fr. L patient-, patiens, fr. prp. of pati to suffer; perh. akin to Gk pema suffering] (14c) 1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint 2: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain 3: not hasty or impetuous 4: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity 5 a: able or willing to bear--used with of b: susceptible, admitting <~ of one interpretation> -- pa.tient.ly adv
By this time in a new Christian's walk, they should have started to learn from the word, and are looking at the promises of God and are getting impatient that the promises aren't being fulfilled. They may also be chomping at the bit wanting to do something for God. But before you can go on to the next steps, you must learn patience for yourself. Remember, the result of these steps of spiritual addition are the most important ones - brotherly kindness and charity. If you haven't mastered patience before you start dealing with the unsaved world, you are going to have a hard and unsatisfactory experience.
Patience is one of my hardest problems. Part of me is like a guy I work with whose customary answer to ``And how would you like that shipped?'' tends to be ``Ship it overnight Federal Express or UPS Red! If I'd wanted it two days from now I would have ordered it tomorrow.''
That attitude pervades our churches today.
Patience is acquired as a trait in many forms. James started his epistle with the following comments:
1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
If you are making any progress at all in the above steps, Satan will surely be putting temptations in your path. The good side to this, according to James, is that as your faith helps get you through these temptations, an increase in patience will be the natural result.
Paul had much the same thoughts expressed in Romans:
5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Finally, some more thoughts from James about patience:
5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
5:8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
and from 1 Timothy
6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
It is surprising how many times patience is linked to tribulation in scripture. Clearly, the Christian walk is guaranteed to not be an easy one. Christ himself declared this fact. Trying to do things for Christ is also something that will increase patience, as people tend to move and change slowly.
Other items requiring patience include the coming of the Lord, but above this we must also be patient for the answers to prayer we seek. God's ways are not our ways, and God has a different sense of time. He knows the perfect time for all things to happen to work together for His glory, and yet He must also wait for the free will of man to be directed along the paths He needs to bring certain things about. As a Father, He has much more patience than I do.
2 Peter 1:6
1:6 ... and to patience godliness; ...
There is a shift in focus of the attributes starting at this point. The earlier attributes all serve to build up an individual's character. This process may serve to make you a better and more stable Christian as well as a better person for people to know. With godliness, the focus shifts - first to what the individual can do for God, then with brotherly kindness to what the individual can do for his or her fellow man (Christian or not), and finally, with charity, to what an individual can do for others at the highest level of Christian service in truly selfless actions.
This is a time when the fruit of the Spirit, planted at salvation and given a large boost of fertilizer with the Spirit's baptism, should be coming to fruition. The following is a list of the fruit of the Spirit, which I am sure most of you can quote:
5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
This listing of the fruit of the Spirit has some overlap with the items of the spiritual addition equation. Faith, temperance, longsuffering, goodness, and love are covered in the list. Joy, peace, gentleness, and meekness are other traits that should become more self-evident by this time as well. The fruit of the Spirit described here represents a single fruit that should grow evenly within our hearts (adding equal amounts of love, joy, et cetera each day). These are certainly attributes of many Christians and are well on the road to godliness.
Although the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians can be acquired at any time after the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and are available to all believers as the Spirit wills, it is in this area of the spiritual addition process where I feel they are most closely tied. They are equipping for service both in witnessing and in works by their nature. A pursuit of godliness is by its nature one of seeking to follow this regimen.
god.ly adj god.li.er ; -est (14c) 1: divine 2: pious, devout -- god.li.ness n -- godly adv, archaic
pi.ous adj [ME, fr. L pius] (15c) 1 a: marked by or showing reverence for deity and devotion to divine worship b: marked by conspicuous religiosity <a hypocrite--a thing all ~ words and uncharitable deeds --Charles Reade> 2: sacred or devotional as distinct from the profane or secular: religious <a ~ opinion> 3: showing loyal reverence for a person or thing: dutiful 4 a: marked by sham or hypocrisy b: marked by self-conscious virtue: virtuous 5: deserving commendation: worthy <a ~ effort> -- pi.ous.ly adv -- pi.ous.ness n de.vout adj [ME devot, fr. OF, fr. LL devotus, fr. L, pp. of devovere] (13c) 1: devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises 2: expressing devotion or piety <a ~ attitude> 3: devoted to a pursuit, belief, or mode of behavior: serious, earnest <a ~ baseball fan> <born a ~ coward --G. B. Shaw> -- de.vout.ly adv -- de.vout.ness n
de.vout adj [ME devot, fr. OF, fr. LL devotus, fr. L, pp. of devovere] (13c) 1: devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises 2: expressing devotion or piety <a ~ attitude> 3: devoted to a pursuit, belief, or mode of behavior: serious, earnest <a ~ baseball fan> <born a ~ coward --G. B. Shaw> -- de.vout.ly adv -- de.vout.ness n rev.er.ence n (14c) 1: honor or respect felt or shown: deference; esp: profound adoring awed respect 2: a gesture of respect (as a bow) 3: the state of being revered 4: one held in reverence--used as a title for a clergyman syn see honor
Many Bible writers spoke of godliness - here are a few examples.
4:7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
Certainly, a life filled with devotion to religious duties and exercises and marked by showing reverence for God and his work is profitable. It is the only thing that we do that comes with a promise of eternal life. So much with which we occupy our time is just like the bodily exercises - it has little profit. No matter how much we exercise, the day we stop the muscle starts decaying. The same can be true of our pursuit of godliness. If we stop or slow down, all that we have gained is potentially at risk.
6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
6:11 Revisited But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
In this passage, Paul challenges people to seek godliness and to be content with what they have. All we really need is food to eat and clothing to protect us from the elements. Truly in a physical sense, that is sufficient. Those who want more run risks that the other things they have will get in the way of what God wants them to do.
God has truly blessed our family, and we are most thankful for what He has done. Yet even if you aren't aggressively trying to dig deeper into the material world, it is a fact that the more things you have, the more it takes to keep everything going.
It is hard to keep everything done when there are only x hours in the week. In preparing this part of the presentation on New Year's Day, I stopped to fix the furnace humidifier. It was all calcified when I bought the house, and I hadn't used it since I moved in. But Margaret was going to start boiling water on the stove during the day to get some humidity for Audrey, so ... Then a good friend stopped over who I only get to see once or twice a year, and before I knew it, it was 20:30 before I got back to work on God's stuff.
He told of an old friend of mine in Denver who just bought a house. He had rented up to this point in time and was paying $950 a month for a small one-bedroom apartment. The new house ran around $160,000 and his payments are going to be $1,200 per month. My friend helped him move what little furniture he had to the new place, and was having fun listing all the things he would now have to buy, just because he was now a homeowner - lots more furniture, appliances, lawn mowers, sprinklers, et cetera. He put in tile in the kitchen - we don't know why, and is planning on adding a patio or deck. His life was full of known conditions, and he had a good cushion of cash to keep him secure if anything unexpected came up. Most of his cushion of cash just vaporized, and now, when things go wrong, he will have to pay for them himself. He won't have a landlord to call.
Is it good being a homeowner? Of course. Is there anything inherently sinful just in owning a house. No. Over the long term, it generally costs less than renting if you are going to be in one place long enough. It isn't the material things that Paul is addressing here - only wrong attitudes about them. We live in a society where all non-Christians and even many who call themselves Christians seek status and to keep up appearances. It is easy to get overextended on that habit of materialism, and it is easy to let it get in the way of what you need to be doing for God. It is that love of things instead of the love of God that is the problem. We all need to seek God's will and find His balance between the things we seek to possess, our search for righteousness, and our good fight of the faith.
2 Peter 3:10-14
3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
One day, God is going to send Christ back in the twinkling of an eye or as a thief in the night. The world will have a much better judge of true godliness. There may be many surprises both among the sinners and among those ``Christians'' left behind. Hopefully, there will be enough Christians in the world that the sinners will notice we have left before the tribulations and judgments of God fall and clarify their situation. We need to be actively awaiting God's return. We need to always remember that even if God delays his return for His Church, He can call any of us home to our eternal rest or to judgment at any time.
2:14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
This last passage is the scariest in this group. The description of this group of people is little different from the descriptions of pure sinners who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Yet at the end Paul remarks, ``Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof''. For the evil these men have in them, and as far away from God as they are, they still put on a form of godliness that will fool many people. They deny the power of the gospel message. Today many churches do this through denying the work of the Holy Spirit. Others subvert the gospel by falsifying demonstrations of the true power at work to claim that they have it as well.
Paul's command is to turn away from these people, but unless you are close to God yourself you may not be able to see through the deceptions yourself. Certainly it seems hard for many today to accept the promises of God for which they meet all the conditions, and accept that His power is for them as well.
The Church may well be in the last days. Certainly groups in every generation since Christ's time have felt they were. I don't know if it is just a reality of the better telecommunications and information exchange that we have today versus the past, but it seems like there are many around preaching the gospel that fall into this false godliness category. Some may just have their moments in the category, but it seems many don't ever leave it today. The fruit of their ministries bring down many churches and many Christians when they fall, weakening the entire body.
By seeking unto godliness, we may well be able to see their true darkness faster. By seeking the power for our own church and for our own lives, we will have a better measure to judge what others say. As Lee said after God had healed his foot and ankle - this isn't a direct quote - ``I will never doubt God's healing power, because He healed me!''. Others of the church can and do make the same claims when God directly touches them. Although the testimony of the Bible should in itself be enough for us, certainly the examples we have seen and heard about ourselves should be enough. Yet too often unless we have a direct experience ourselves it just isn't real for us. We need this certainty of God's power in our midst whether we are in a corporate setting or dealing with life alone (with God) against the world.
2 Peter 1:7
1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; ...
The last two sections deal specifically with how we relate to others. First, we are commanded to add simple brotherly kindness. To meet the Biblical standards for kindness wherever it is needed can be difficult. To help those we know is sometimes difficult if it would put us in hardship. To help those we don't know - or to help our enemies - is even more difficult.
Although many organizations exist today that serve to help those in need, there are few who touch the hearts of those to whom they minister. There is much good that Christians can do in reaching out to meet the needs of others. Unfortunately, in many instances it is done with the same lack of regard as help from government or secular organizations.
Sometimes when the church's resources are low, all we can do is pray. If we have faith, and the power of the Spirit living and working in our godly lives, we can be assured that our prayers will be heard. If we are truly being led of the Spirit in our prayers, we can rest assured that God has prepared a response for those in need that is better than anything we could have done in our own strength. Prayer should not be a substitute for doing what we can with what God has given us. We must pray for wisdom to act properly in each instance so that we help the truly needy and not waste our resources on those who would simply take advantage of beneficence. We must trust God to meet the needs the church isn't able to meet.
kind.ness n (13c) 1: a kind deed: favor 2 a: the quality or state of being kind b archaic: affection kind n [ME kinde, fr. OE cynd; akin to OE cynn kin] (bef. 12c) 1 a archaic: nature b archaic: family, lineage 2 archaic: manner 3: fundamental nature or quality: essence 4 a: a group united by common traits or interests: category b: a specific or recognized variety <what ~ of car do you drive> c: a doubtful or barely admissible member of a category <a ~ of gray> 5 a: goods or commodities as distinguished from money <payment in ~> b: the equivalent of what has been offered or received syn see type -- all kinds of 1: many <likes all kinds of sports> 2: plenty of <has all kinds of time> kind adj (14c) 1 chiefly dial: affectionate, loving 2 a: of a sympathetic or helpful nature b: of a forbearing nature: gentle c: arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance <a ~ act> 3: of a kind to give pleasure or relief
Although not strictly listed as brotherly kindness, there is a parable that speaks to the question of who is our neighbor and to kindness.
10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
10:28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
10:31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
10:32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
10:34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
10:35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
10:37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Dake has some interesting comments to make on this parable (j, l, m, n, s 71-4 *).
- The road from Jericho to Jerusalem was a steep descent of about 18 miles and was known as the bloody way because of the robbers that infested the country (v 30).
- At the time, about 12,000 priests lived in Jericho and went to Jerusalem to minister in the temple frequently (v 31).
- This is the extent of the help of religious people who are bound by forms and rituals, which cannot be broken even to save a life. These did two things: ``looked on'' and ``passed by on the other side'' under the pretense of avoiding legal pollution. A merciful compassionate and godly man would have saved the life regardless of pollution, knowing that provision was made for him to become clean again. Jesus showed the superiority of the gospel over the law, teaching us to reject any religion or law that would neglect a deed or mercy (v 32).
- The Samaritans were hated by the Jews. Often the despised come to the rescue, showing deeds of mercy and human compassion when the respected and religious class will not. Rejection by men naturally works kindness and compassion in the human soul (v 33).
- Our neighbor is anyone who is in need and whom we have the opportunity to help (v 37).
Too often, we don't know the needs of those around us. In today's society and particularly in the church, they are rarely as visible as the man beaten and left for dead on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. To close out this section, I have several open ended discussion questions:
- What are some of the material and non-material ways churches and church members can show kindness to those in need today? Some churches set up official food banks, have clothing drives and rummage sales, benevolence programs, et cetera. Here is some more of Christ's teaching on the Christian and the world.
5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Some less material ways include things like dinner fellowships and thoughtful deeds. Non-material means may include a helping hand in times of distress or trouble, intercessory prayers, a phone call to reach out and touch a heart and let them know you are thinking of them, and visitation are some of the ways.
Matthew 25:31-40; Luke 3:11, 14:12-14; James 1:27
25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
3:11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
14:12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
- What limits are placed on helping those in need and showing brotherly kindness?
2 Thessalonians 3:10-13; 1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8
3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
- What attitudes toward brotherly kindness will set the church's work apart from that of the other organizations? Too often, after the first rush of excitement, anything a church does degenerates to just another job. If you staff any project with people assigned or compelled to volunteer with anything other than true brotherly kindness in their heart, some good may come about. But, in all probability it will be a fruit that dies on the vine, becoming harder and harder to find workers to staff, and eventually falling by the wayside in decay. By concentrating on the people and their complete needs, you will set yourself apart from organizations that concentrate on the action itself.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 ;Colossians 3:12-17; 1 John 3:16-21
9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
3:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
3:19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
Clearly, when we allow God to have a hand in what we do as individuals and as a church, and if miracles are performed during the acts of brotherly kindness, we will truly set ourselves apart from the organizations of the world. We should always try to spread the gospel message as the Spirit gives us direction in order to give answer to the questions of why are we doing a particular thing. We should not attempt to do things just to have a particular program or out of other impure motives. We must seek what God has for us at each particular moment and strive to do that to our fullest.
- What can we do with the resources we have? It is amazing how God will fulfill his promises to multiply any effort we make for His glory. What steps the church as a body take is not as important as the steps that we as individuals take at this point in time. Whatever we do should never come between us and God or between our obligations to Him and His church. Yet Jesus message was clear. His church needs to be helping in outreach areas in addition to dutifully tithing as the Pharisees did.
Luke 11:37-42; Matthew 7:12; Galatians 6:10
11:37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
11:38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
11:39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
11:40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
11:41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
2 Peter 1:7
1:7 ... and to brotherly kindness charity.
Charity is a culmination of the above traits, virtues, and attributes. It is as close to the divine love of God as humans are likely to achieve.
char.i.ty n, pl -ties [ME charite, fr. OF charite, fr. LL caritat-, caritas Christian love, fr. L, dearness, fr. carus dear; akin to OIr carae friend, Skt kama love] (13c) 1: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity 2 a: generosity and helpfulness esp. toward the needy or suffering; also: aid given to those in need b: an institution engaged in relief of the poor c: public provision for the relief of the needy 3 a: a gift for public benevolent purposes b: an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift 4: lenient judgment of others syn see mercy
The following are what some Bible authors had to say about charity - we'll start with the classic sample.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Here are some thoughts from Dake on divine love (g 186-1 *).
Gr. agape, spontaneous and divine love. It is more eternal than gifts.
9 ingredients of divine love:
- Patience - love passive: no hurry; suffers long; bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things (v 4, 7).
- Kindness - love in action: never acts rashly or insolently; not inconsistent, puffed up, or proud (v 4).
- Generosity - love in competition: not envious or jealous (v 4).
- Humility - love in hiding: no parade; no airs; works then retires (v 4).
- Courtesy - love in society: does not behave unseemly; always polite; at home with all classes; never rude or discourteous (v 5).
- Unselfishness - love in essence: never selfish, sour, or bitter; seeks only good of others; does not retaliate or seek revenge (v 5).
- Good temper - love in disposition: never irritated; never resentful (v 5).
- Righteousness - love in conduct: hates sin; never glad when others go wrong; always gladdened by goodness to others; always slow to expose; always eager to believe the best; always hopeful, always enduring (v 6-7).
- Sincerity - love in profession: never boastful and conceited; not a hypocrite; always honest; leaves no impression but what is strictly true; never self-assertive; does not blaze out in passionate anger, nor brood over wrongs; always just, joyful, and truthful; knows how to be silent; full of trust; always present.
Here are some other scriptures about charity.
12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
12:32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
12:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
12:34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. [It will help us overlook the sins of others]
4:9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Paul, in writing Romans summed this passage up in another way.
2:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
At the conclusion of the scripture text in 2 Peter, Peter writes that if you continually work on keeping your life focused on these precepts, you will have several very important blessings
- You will not be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus (v 8).
- You won't forget that you have had your sins purged (v 9).
- You will make Christ's calling on your life solid and sound so that you will not fall from grace (v 10).
- You will have an entrance available to you to the everlasting kingdom of Jesus (v 11).
Dake comments (q, r 271-1 *) that he who has these things in his life is guaranteed not to backslide. But if we stop doing these things and working to the ultimate goals in the list we can backslide far enough that we will even forget that we have been purged from our sins. This clear warning from Peter should silence those who say that once you have been saved, you are saved eternally. A Christian is always at risk when he tries to step out of the fight that is set before him.
I can assure you from personal experience that an idle mind is an invitation to trouble. If we keep busy along our Christian walk, we won't have time to get into trouble.
- Quotations from Dake come from the Dake's Annotated Reference Bible by Finis Jennings Dake © 1961, 1963.
- All definitions are taken from the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary - Tenth Edition © 1994.
- All Bible extracts are taken from the Authorized (King James) Version.
and is reproduced on our web site with permission from representatives of Dake