For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:5-8
Two hundred eighty years ago this week John Wesley was touched by words written by Martin Luther two centuries earlier. After reading from Luther’s preface to the book of Romans, he reported:
A most wonderful thing has just happened to me, and I can not restrain myself from bearing witness to it now, at once. I, John Wesley, I am that man described by Luther. Casting about Him in the outer darkness. Sir, when I heard the words: “Faith is God’s work in us…” [emphasis added] I, I felt my heart…strangely warmed…
What a wonderful insight and powerful truth: faith is God’s work in us. This is not only most certainly true, it is a foundational truth for all that Peter speaks of in these verses. God’s desire in working faith in our hearts is not to be taken lightly, nor short-circuited. God desires that our hearts be touched with his grace so that we are saved, and in such a manner that we become eminently more useful, productive, effective, and useful to our neighbor and fellow believer.
Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. This is not Peter’s nor Christ’s desire for us. That we believe and are saved is essential to following Jesus. This is truly his express will and desire. But Jesus also calls us to love our neighbor, do good works, and bear fruit. Faith is not properly founded nor engaged if it does not move us to do good, bring glory to God, or help our neighbor.
The virtues we are commanded to add to our faith are there so that we are not self-focused, inwardly directed, and short-sighted, but that we live for the honor of Christ Jesus. If we believe we do well. If we put Jesus’ teachings into practice we do better. If we add these adornments to our faith we will be productive and effectual. God will be praised. People will be blessed. Earth will be better. Heaven will rejoice.
When I consider Jesus in these terms, I am reminded of his perfect faith shown on the cross when he died entrusting himself into the hands of the One who had forsaken him: that’s perfect faith. His whole life was a life of steadfastness, self-control, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. What a powerful impact he had by that means.
Thanks be to God for his work of faith in us. What a launch pad for a full, meaningful, productive, and enriching life!