In my ongoing meditation on 2 Peter, chapter 1, I am currently dwelling on the list of qualities that we should have and that should be increasing in our lives:
in our faith supply moral excellence,
in moral excellence, knowledge,
in knowledge self-control,
in self-control, perseverance,
in perseverance, godliness,
in godliness, brotherly kindness,
in brotherly kindness, love.
Today's focus is on self-control and perseverance. The idea of stick-to-it-iveness and never giving up. This is not a strong suit of mine, and it is something that I can see will be a struggle for my son as well. I love the progression of these virtues in the verses in 2 Peter. How beautiful and true. It isn't enough to have self-control, you have to persevere. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know. I've done it thousands of times." That makes me giggle, and sigh. While I don't struggle with smoking, there are many things in my life that I have decided to do something about, with all the resolve in the world, only to have to decide all over again a few months later because I never followed through for longer than a few days. Ugh.
Thomas Edison once said, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
It is this knowledge and philosophy that I want to marry with this concept from Jan Denise: "When I'm tempted to do something that feels like giving up, I won't...because love doesn't give up (I Cor. 13). But, lest I push love aside, I will make sure that what I'm holding on to can coexist with love." Never, ever, ever give up... UNLESS, what I'm striving toward is not of God, for God IS love.
The next part of these verses in 2 Peter that humbles me to my core is that the attribute of godliness doesn't arrive on the scene until AFTER perseverance. Godliness isn't something that comes by half-hearted effort. The things that follow perseverance are the things that I find myself striving for and desiring the most in life: godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. The concept I've neglected all these years is that those attributes have to be "earned" in a sense, BUILT UP TO over time. We don't get to skip all the others and go straight to godliness! Though this is how I've lived much of my life in many ways. When I do this I end up with something very hollow that only echoes what true godliness is all about. Life is too short to settle for this kind of incomplete Christianity.
"If these qualities are mine and are increasing, they render me neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind and short sighted having FORGOTTEN his purification from his former sins."
What a slap in the face of God to forget all that Jesus has done for me...His sacrifice on the cross should be the impetus for my perseverance and self-control. Now THAT is something I can wrap my mind and heart around! It is time to PERSEVERE!
So, I feel compelled to admit... I am completely convicted right now about laziness! I fear my standards have become too low. Scratch that. I don't fear. I know. The amount that I am accomplishing on a daily basis is paltry compared to what I am truly capable of. I think I've allowed the fact that I have a lot on my plate keep me from being as fruitful as I can be. You see, when you have a lot of responsibilities, people cut you slack. They don't question you as much. Meanwhile, there are people with far fewer responsibilities who are accomplishing far more. The Bible says that "to whom much is given, much is required," and I am living in a dream world where I am ignoring the requirements and enjoying what's been given. The thing is though, I'm not really enjoying it.
Proverbs 19:15 says, "Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger." I am not suffering physical hunger... far from it. BUT, what I am realizing is that I am still hungering. I'm hungering emotionally and spiritually. It is impossible for a true Believer to knowingly live in sin and feel fulfilled.
Lately I've been trying to memorize 2 Peter 1:2-8. This is a reflection of what it takes to live a fruitful and useful life, and it doesn't leave room for mental or physical laziness:
"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Seeing that his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us according to His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Time to make some changes!
We are officially licensed foster parents. I have no idea where this road will take us. How many twists and turns, ups and downs we will encounter. I suspect tears will be involved, as well as laughter. I just read the following quote on a blog that was written by a foster mom the night she picked up their first foster baby. I want to remember it. And live by it.
"How long will he be with us? Who knows! It could be a few more days or it could be a lifetime. What I have complete peace about it that my God has a perfect plan for his life and for whatever amount of time He allows him to be in our family we will love his as our own, teach him about his Heavenly Father and tell him how precious and loved he is. Will my heart break if he leaves us? Yes! Will I cry? You bet, already bawled at the thought many times! Will I regret opening our hearts and home? NO WAY!"