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Energetic Cooperation

2 Peter 1:5-7
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 (NIVUK)

Peter previously explained that God is committed to saving all who will trust in Jesus and sanctifying all who believe His promises (2 Peter 1:3-4).  But what about us; are we to be simply inert and enjoy believing, while God does everything around us?  No!  When we were called into the Kingdom of God, He wanted us to be in relationship with Him; to work with Him in His 'family business', as Jesus worked with Father God (John 17:20-23).  Peter now identifies some of the spiritual disciplines that are necessary in any workplace, and essential if we are to work effectively with God.

None of these disciplines can ever earn our place in heaven or favour with God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  They do not add to our credit in heaven.  But they glorify God, make His teaching attractive to seekers (Titus 2:9-10) and enable us to be effective fellow workers with God (2 Corinthians 6:1).  They are like the disciplines of the soldier, athlete and farmer which enable the battles and races to be won and the crops harvested (2 Timothy 2:3-7).
But before the catalogue of attitudes and behaviour, Peter underlines that half-heartedness is not an option. We must 'make every effort' (2 Peter 3:14). Like a soldier in training or a student doctor, a careless attitude makes them a danger to themselves and others.  And so it is for followers of Christ.  It is useless talking about how Jesus has changed your life, if you make no effort to do what is good (and forsake the bad).  It makes no sense to assume that you know everything and have no need to learn - because that is not true.  It is only through knowing God in His Word and practising what He commands that we can be useful in His kingdom.  That is faith in action and develops as we love and obey Him.

Goodness is the likeness of Christ in our natures; and knowledge comes from the truth of Scripture.  Self-control is vital in any family and workplace - it is both a gift (2 Timothy 1:7) and a fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:23) which is essential if people are to be trusted in ministry.  Faith that perseveres, keeping going when everything inside you screams for you to stop, demonstrates the cooperation of the believer who refuses to step back with the Lord who give us the power to advance.  Godliness is a characteristic like that of God’s which develops as we spend time with Him.  Mutual affection gives equal honour to all in God’s family.  And love is the ability to keep giving whatever is needed for God to be glorified. Christians like that in the workplace are like gold: solid, dependable, constant, reliable, trustworthy and of great value (2 Peter 1:8). They may be ridiculed for following Jesus, but they will be admired for their standards, values and productivity.  But, as for those who just talk about faith, their hollowness is evident to all.

Dear Lord. Thank You for encouraging me to grow up in my faith and become more like Jesus. Forgive me for the times when I have been lazy or self-indulgent or passive in my faith, somehow assuming that holiness will stick to me if I go to church. How much my character still needs to be reformed, changing my focus of life so that Christ-likeness becomes my primary goal. Please help me to practise the faith I profess and to set objectives for progress in personal disciplines, so that I can be better equipped to work with You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams