Echoes From the Campfire

A man is born beside the road to death. To die is not so much, it is inevitable. The journey is what matters, and what one does along the way. And it’s not that he succeeds or fails, only that he has lived proudly, with honor and respect, then he can die proudly.”

                    –Louis L’Amour  (The Ferguson Rifle)

       “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
                    –Romans 5:3 (NKJV)
               “Therefore, believers, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure that your behavior reflects and confirms your relationship with God]; for by doing these things [actively developing these virtues], you will never stumble [in your spiritual growth and will live a life that leads others away from sin].”
                              –2 Peter 1:10 (Amplified)

       I used this verse yesterday from the NKJV but I want to look at it again in the light of the verses preceding it.  Notice that we are to be diligent to make certain about His calling.  We do that by growing in grace, growing in the virtues that are within us to make us more Christ-like.  Our life has been equipped with virtues that we must add to.  Someone commented that we add virtue to virtue.  We grow.  Moffat stated that, “the Christian life must not be an initial spasm followed by a chronic inertia.”  
       Matthew writes that we are to be “perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  Oh my, but how?  Or maybe I should use an exclamation mark.  How to be perfect!  Sometimes we need to study what words means.  The Amplified clarifies this for us, “You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Perfect is growing into spiritual maturity.  In other words, “be mature”!
       Turn your attention back to 2 Peter and look at the virtues that should be present in our lives.  

               “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brother kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
                                –2 Peter 1:5-7 (NKJV)

We start off with faith–“for by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8).  We start with faith.  Faith is the conviction that what Christ said is true and we can commit ourselves to His promises.  It is unquestioning certainty.
       We add to faith–virtue.  Virtue speak of excellence.  It is not a life of mediocrity that we are to live, but one of excellence in serving Christ.  We do it to the best of our ability.  This makes a man a good citizen and a good friend.  He is to be an expert in the technique of living well (I like that).  There is no excuse for cowardice in the Christian life, therefore virtue has that trait of courage.
       Add knowledge now to virtue.  This is practical knowledge, the ability to apply to particular situations the knowledge that we have gained.  This helps a man to rightly decide then to act honorably and efficiently in the day-to-day circumstances of life.
       Then to knowledge is added self-control.  The term means literally the ability to take a grip of oneself.  Self-discipline is important as we go through life.  I remember a situation when I was in college.  One of the guys in the dorm came steaming down the hallway, his girlfriend had broken up with him.  He was angry and slammed his fist into the sheetrock only to hit a place where there was a 2×4 behind the sheetrock breaking bones in his hand.  Lack of self-control can lead to disastrous problems in our lives.  Our passions must become the servant, not the master.
       Perseverance or maybe better Steadfastness.  This is more than mere patience.  The Latin sage Cicero said this about steadfastness, “The voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honor and usefulness.”  It is why Paul says to be thankful in all things realizing that God is with us and knows what is best for our lives.  Barclay says, “It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmuting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.”
       Add to steadfastness godliness (piety).  There are two parts to godliness here.  First, the person always correctly worships God and gives Him His due.  Then following the person correctly serves his fellow-men and gives them their due.  It is a benefit to the Kingdom of God and to the community in which the person resides.  He is of benefit to God and others. (Barclay)
       Brotherly affection is “love of the brethren.”  We are to love the brethren, those in the body of Christ.  We are in the same family.  We should not be annoyed by relational interruptions but continue to let love abound.  In saying this we are to love as Christ loved (agape).  This is a love from God and is impossible for man without the help of the Holy Spirit.
       2022, let it be a year where you climb and confirm your calling.  Grow in maturity (be perfect).  Take one step at a time, yet don’t forget to look forward at the horizon, the grand view of what God has for us.