Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 07/24/19

Grow Godly

Godliness is not an overnight success, it’s a lifetime of growth.

STORY: The Best Recipes

I love collecting church cookbooks because they have some of the best recipes. I know they include ingredients I have on hand or are easy to find at the store. Some of these recipes are favorites at church fellowships. Some churches call them potlucks, because we’re in luck when we discover what’s in each pot—a whole lotta yum!

Recipes work because they build one ingredient upon another, step by step, until we get to the completed dish. The ingredients by themselves usually aren’t that delicious, but when you pull it all together, it works. God is at work growing his virtues in our lives, step by step. Let’s look at that today by focusing on one passage.

STUDY: Follow the Instructions

In our last Grin and Grow study we discovered how important knowledge is to growth. In this study, we are going to build on that principle by adding additional traits befitting a growing Christ-follower. We’re going to take a passage of Scripture that deals with growth and explore the key words in it. What I especially like about the biblical concept established here is the last verse says if we practice these qualities we will never fall.

Grow in Godliness

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 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. 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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:2-10 ESV)
  • What do you think happens when grace and peace grow in your life?
  • The second sentence tells us God gives us all the power we need to deal with living a godly life. How do we access it?
  • Peter encourages believers to make every effort to grow godly traits once faith is established. If this was a recipe, it seems each one is added in order. When we grow this way, each step helps us get to the next step. Add to faith, virtue. Then knowledge. Followed by self-control. After that, steadfastness. Then godliness. It’s only after godliness that we’re equipped to have brotherly affection and love. What are your comments on these step-by-step instructions? Why do you think the preceding trait helps build the next one? What might happen if we try to get them out of order and think some of them aren’t as important or too hard to develop in our lives? Does it stunt our growth? (I think of them like stepping stones and if we jump to one out of sequence, we aren’t ready to go forward and miss the step, or we go backward. Sounds a lot like my life!)

Build on Your Basic Faith

The Message paraphrases words the middle section this way, showing the growth principle in action:

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (2 Peter 1:5-9 MSG)
  • We’re encouraged not to waste time building on our basic faith. In the brackets below, I add the Amplified Bible term.
  • What is good character [moral excellence]?
  • What is spiritual understanding [knowledge, insight]?
  • What does it mean to have alert discipline [self-control]?
  • What do you think of pairing the words passionate and patience [steadfastness] together? How will your passion help you grow patience?
  • What does reverent wonder look like in your life? (Note: most other translations have godliness here, so also discuss how you grow godly.)
  • When you have built up your faith by adding these things, how does it help you have warm friendliness [brotherly affection]?
  • Why do you think warm friendliness comes before displaying generous love [love that unselfishly seeks the best for others and seeks to do things for their benefit]?
  • What did the author of The Message paraphrase (Eugene Peterson) say happens when we don’t grow these qualities? The Amplified Bible words it this way, “For whoever lacks these qualities is blind—shortsighted [closing his spiritual eyes to the truth], having become oblivious to the fact that he was cleansed from his old sins.”

STEPS: A Lifetime of Growth

  1. Evaluate your spiritual growth. As you read the instructions above, what are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
  2. Write it down. Determine this week to focus on growing more like God by keeping one of the above virtues on your radar each day. Write that characteristic on a notecard or phone note so you see it often.
  3. Lean on God. Even though it takes discipline to grow, it only comes when receiving God’s equipping power. Don’t try to do it on your own.

Copyright © 2019 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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