Friday, April 26, 2013

Attending to Faith with Diligence (Part 2)

Cultivating faith isn't a simple task. Just as Jesus taught his disciples...diligence is key to cultivating faith (see part one). So how exactly do you have that diligent faith? There was a disciple who learned this the hard way. Which one? Peter.

Peter was quite possibly the most ardent (which means to have enthusiasm or passion) of Christ's disciples. It wasn't by chance he was chosen to learn from the Master of the universe. When we look at Peter's character, it's easy to see he was a bit of hothead. Always quick to jump the gun...cutting the soldier's ear off, swearing he would never deny Jesus as the Christ, etc. You will always find Peter at the forefront of every situation. Peter desperately sought to know how to cultivate his faith and once he learned...he attended to it with diligence and left us the blueprint on how to do the same.


In 2 Peter 1:3, Peter tells us, "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:"

The first thing Peter is telling us in this chapter is that Christ has given us all things that pertain unto life. Now, we might define life in our English language as existence or being, and we’d be right to do so, however that is not the definition intended here. When we go back to the Greek, we understand that Peter is telling us that Christ has given us everything we need to be possessed with vitality! It means you’re supposed to live a life of passion and vigor!!! If you’ve ever met anyone that is passionate about something, they’re not sitting on the sidelines; they’re working hard to accomplish their goal. Think about Olympians and all the hard work and training they put in because of their passion. 

So how exactly do we do live our everyday life with vitality and passion? 

"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to your virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity." (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Notice here...there’s that word again…diligence…Peter says, “giving all diligence,"...and then he starts with faith..."ADD TO YOUR FAITH…”

Remember, you can’t grow the mustard seed with out water and weeding and sunlight and pruning. If you’ve ever tried to grow anything, you know it takes diligence or hard work to keep it from dying.

Peter then begins to give us the list of ingredients to cultivate or grow our faith.

First, is virtue—or moral excellence, which requires strength…remember Proverbs 31:8—"who can find a virtuous woman?" Think about all she does! That lady is superwoman…she has great strength to handle all of the things coming at her! Virtue is defined in the Hebrew as strength...You see, you have to be strong to deal with the things that are going to come at you as a Christian. You have to strengthen yourself for those fiery darts. So how do you do that?

With knowledge, which is the next thing on Peter’s list. Knowledge is a general understanding of the Christian faith. If you don’t know your faith and why you believe it, how will you ever convince someone how great our GOD is? You’ve got to know what is lawful and unlawful when walking with Christ. This keeps you from being a stumbling block, or causing others to fail to live that virtuous life.

When you knowledge of how you should behave, then you will need to learn temperance or self-control. You absolutely have to master your desires…whatever it is you struggle with, you have to have self-control to overcome it...you have to bring it unto subjection to Christ. For example, if you are prone to gossip, then you’ve perhaps you excuse yourself from conversations that are going in that direction. If alcohol entices to you, then perhaps you don’t go to dinner with friends that think there’s no reason not to have a glass of wine….maybe you go for coffee with them instead.

Once you have mastered temperance, you then add patience…that is defined as endurance. You find a way to endure those moments that you will be faced with temptation, because you eventually will be. You find a way to endure those hardships that make you want to throw your hands up and quit. You find a way to endure...so that others might seek forgiveness in the Gospel of Christ when they look at your life.

After temperance, then it's easy to add godliness. Respect and reverence for your Creator comes east after you see all that He’s helped you overcome and how far He’s brought you.

Godliness then transforms you and brotherly love becomes part of the mix…you begin to love the brethren. Someone that was once your enemy is now your brother or your sister in Christ and you’re willing to do whatever you can to help them...your willing to bear their burdens. Someone that you once didn’t like…you now love…you now love him or her because you have charity, which is love. So you choose to love, because Christ chose to love you and die on a cross so that your sins would be washed away.

"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." (2 Peter 1:8)

Peter continues here in verse 8, telling us that if all of these ingredients have been mixed in with our faith...the we will be working hard to share the Gospel so that others can have the same hope that lives in us...we won’t be idle.

"Therefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:" (2 Peter 1:10)

Again in verse 10, Peter tells us we've got to be diligent...our calling and election depends on it— that calling and election is our relationship with God!! We cannot and should not neglect time with HIM... we must be diligent {Definition again if you need reminding: Steady application in business (or relationships) of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention}

"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting [you] in remembrance;" (2 Peter 1:13)

Peter stresses one last time the importance in remembering this recipe. He tells them he wants "to stir you up..." Strong’s Concordance defines both stir and up as awaken, arouse, render active. When something or someone is rendered active...DILIGENCE IS INVOLVED!

So the formula for cultivating our faith will keep us stirred up and working diligently for Christ. And the more stirred up we as body of believers stay, the more mountains we move, and the more people we reach for Christ. If you've never began adding anything to your faith, I invite you to do so now...because it isn't the size of your faith that's going to move that mountain...rather it's how you cultivate it. 



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