The Greatest is Love

Over the last 17 months, I’ve been slowly crawling  my way through the passage in 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8, where Peter lays out God’s steps to success. Well, we’ve finally arrived at the ultimate goal: love. All the lessons about goodness, gaining knowledge of God, learning self-control and perseverance,  learning to see things God’s way, and seeing people from God’s point of view finally have purpose when we begin to love as God loves.

It takes love to produce lasting fruit—effective and productive ministry. Without it, we might know about Jesus, but our knowledge is useless. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, without love we are nothing.

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[Yet another installment in my series on “Godly Success,” based on 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8.]

Cain killed Abel and started a war that hasn’t ended yet. We see it continue with Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel, James and John (I bet Jesus didn’t give them the nickname “Sons of Thunder” because they were so kind to one another). My husband, one of six siblings, remembers being repeatedly pounded into the lawn by his next-older brother during elementary school. Our two daughters also had their moments—our favorite was, “She’s breathing my air!”

As an only child, I really didn’t understand sibling relationships. Thank goodness my husband could offer insight on how to deal with dueling sisters! I honestly thought they hated one another until a third party was added to the household. When our girls were in 8th and 10th grades, we became foster parents for a 15-year-old teenage girl. Suddenly, it was a whole new ballgame. Our kids welcomed the newcomer, but in any sort of conflict it was the sisters who presented a united front.

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God Grant Us Patience!

I’ve been slowly (very slowly) going through God’s “Steps to Success” (found in 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8). After looking at faith, goodness, knowledge, and self-control, the next attribute is “patient endurance.” The Greek word used here,  ὑπομονή (hypomonē), is also sometimes translated as perseverance. Each definition has its own nuances. Let’s start with “patient endurance.”

I confess in particular that I’m not very good at the “patient” part of “patient endurance.” I endure, all right, but I do it with plenty of griping and self-pity.

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Goodness Me

Last month, I wrote about how faith is an essential foundation for effectiveness and productivity, according to 2 Peter 1:3-8. Now I want to look at the second of God’s “Steps to Success”—goodness.

When I was growing up, my parents frequently commented on how “good” I was. It’s true that I tended to be obedient—and when I wasn’t, well, I was pretty good at not getting caught! But this isn’t the kind of “good” that Peter means.

While “good” can mean “satisfactory,” God has higher standards. I was a satisfactory child, but I certainly wasn’t good in the Biblical sense!

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God’s “Steps to Success”

On most mornings, I grab my breakfast and a cup of tea, open my Bible, and start the day with God…  so it happened that last week I, while munching on scrambled eggs and toast, I read 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8.

[Jesus’] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness….

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I immediately fixated on that last sentence. Who wants to be ineffective and unproductive? The chart-topping sales of The Purpose-Driven Life tells us that this is a Big Deal for us believers. It is certainly a concern of mine. In fact, after our kids grew up and moved out I spent a lot of years wondering and praying about what God would have me do with the rest of my life. I felt very ineffective and unproductive, and it was quite depressing.

I should have spent more time hearing what Peter (and God through him)  had to say here.

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