Follow the pattern

But God designed a pattern for godly living

2 Peter 1:5-7, 3:14 Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with moral excellence … knowledge … self-control … patient endurance … godliness … brotherly affection … love for everyone. … And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for the day of God, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

“Make every effort”?? What are you talking about, Peter? Isn’t the Christian life all about grace?

Yes, it is. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (v. 3).

But we have to decide to accept his gifts and promises and take action empowered by the Holy Spirit. God can’t and won’t force us to do what’s best for us and for our families and our communities and cities and the world. That’s on us.

Why can’t he? Because he respects us as choosers, as agents, as actors. He’s not interested in controlling us like marionettes or puppets. He made us in his own image. He wants a relationship of love, not of oppression. He woos and invites us into joy and peace by his pleasure in us and in the people we are becoming as we grow in imitating Jesus.

Shutterstock: NatBasil NO!!! This is NOT how God relates to us!!!

Here’s a bit of insight into three of the terms Peter uses. Curious? Look up the others!

Knowledge: gnosis, seeking to know and understand; curiosity that keeps us growing. As you probably know, the Greek language has many words for knowledge. Peter specifically chose this one.

Self-control: enkrateia, right use (rather than abuse) of our powers and knowledge.

Godliness: eusebeia, caring about and doing what pleases God. We don’t have to guess at what pleases God because the Scriptures are packed full of instruction and examples. I immediately think of Barnabas, who was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith” (Acts 11:24). Since he was full of the Holy Spirit, we know the fruits of the Spirit were evident in his life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). He consistently chose to think and act in ways that honored God, rather than pleasing himself or even other people.

One thing I appreciate about Peter’s list is that it helps me know who I can trust and learn from. If this pattern isn’t evident in someone’s life—even someone who claims the name of Christ—I need to guard my heart. Peter warns us in chapter 2 about those who “cleverly teach destructive heresies” and evidence “shameful immorality.” Let’s be wise and discerning, not gullible, so the way of truth will not be slandered (2:2).

Peter really, really cares about this. It matters. Do you love people more, rather than less, as a result of following this person? If not, that person is not following Christ, even if he or she claims to do so.

As I write this, I am thinking of the amazing pattern of godliness we see in the Polish churches who have sacrificially welcomed and cared for Ukrainian refugees after reading this article in Christianity Today. Will you take a moment to pray for them with me?