December 12, 2020. Day 347: Make every effort.

2 Peter 1:5-7. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 

Dallas Willard once said, “The gospel isn’t opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.” But we must admit that when we read a verse in the New Testament that says make every effort it can be a bit confusing and even cringy. Especially after 346 days of emphasizing the gospel of grace through the finished work of Christ.

But let’s time travel back to Genesis for a moment in an attempt to understand the relationship between God’s rest and God’s work, and our resting in Christ, and our working in Christ.

As we all know, when God finished creating he rested (see day 10). Never again would God create something new from “nothing.” His creation work was complete. And yet God’s work THROUGH creation continues each and every day. He continues to care for and sustain his creation, and will forever. He works from rest.

In the same way God’s redemptive work in Christ is complete. It is finished. There is nothing left for God to do in order for the salvation of mankind, and the restoration of the creation to take place. Jesus is SEATED. And yet, God’s redemptive work continues THROUGH Christ, IN us. Transforming us. Changing us. Sanctifying us. And through us he brings others to himself.

If we read 2 Peter 1:5-7 alone, out of context, we might be tempted to read it as law. Do this. Do that. Add this to your life. Make an effort. Just try harder. But fortunately for you, you read yesterday’s reading first (you did, right?).

2 Peter 1:3-4 asked us to trust our rest in Christ: we have everything we need for his life and godliness; we know him; we share in his glory and excellence; we are partakers of the divine nature; we have escaped the sinful corruption of the heart.

Now 2 Peter 1:5-7 will ask us to work from that rest – For this very reason. Our passive faith (believing everything in 1:3-4) must now become our active faith (doing everything in 1:5-7). What we have received IN CHRIST (1:3-4), must now look like CHRIST IN US (1:5-7).

Our life in Christ is NOT about trying harder and harder. But it is about making every effort. And yes, there’s a difference. Trying harder and harder implies I must do better and better in order to succeed. But making every effort isn’t about getting better and better in order to impress. It’s about that famous Greek word in verse 4 – koinonia. To partake. to share. It’s about living in a mutual relationship with Jesus. Working toward a common purpose together. Living interdependently with Christ.

And this is a beautiful thing. It is growth. It is love. It is true humanity. Which of us wants our newborn baby to stay that way forever? Forever helpless, useless, and dependent? No. We want them to grow up. To learn how to contribute. We want to see their personhood develop and we want them to know and receive our love as we know and receive theirs. Koinonia.

And how do we know that our child is becoming more of a person? More loving? Because they are making every effort to take all that you’ve poured into them and pour it out on others. They are learning to trust what you’ve given them (faith), and then use it to improve the lives of others (love).

And this is exactly the Christian experience that Peter is describing in 1:5-7. Faith that becomes love – make every effort to…supplement your faith with…love.

When you believe that you have freely and graciously been given “everything for life” by your Savior King you will, quite naturally, be determined to add these gifts on to your life by faith in Christ. If you graciously gave your child a Lego set what would you expect them to do with it? That’s right, you’d expect them to “add” the Legos together, to build with them, to stack them up into something amazing and fun.

So let’s grab the “Love Legos” God has given us in order to build Christ into our lives.

On our table top of faith, let’s stack up a foundation of Christ’s virtue. His practical, tangible goodness and kindness.

Don’t forget knowledge. Look at the instructions so you can see what the finished design look like.

Then grab the Legos of self-control and steadfastness. Building is a slow and steady process with lots of parts. Don’t lose your cool. It’s gonna look great in the end.

Next comes the blocks of godliness and brotherly affection. Never lose sight of why we build our lives in Christ’s love – to honor God and care for others.

And finally, love. The finished product. A life that look like the agape love of God. A life that looks like “to live is Christ.”

You

Are you “trying harder” or “making an effort” to let Christ’s love flow out of your life? Can you tell the difference?

You in Christ

How does being in Christ (review 2 Peter 1:3-4) allow these virtues to flow out of our lives through our faith filled effort?

Christ in you

Where might you need to add some of Jesus’ goodness, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, or brotherly affection today?

Playlist: Like Christ

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