Make Every Effort: Sowing to the Spirit
2 Peter 1:5, "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge..." The passage in 2 Peter:3-11 has meant a very great deal to me in the past month, I have drawn much strength from it. There are so many great truths in this passage which sets forth God's whole purpose for us in Christ Jesus to share in God's divine nature, His power on our behalf is displayed, the necessity of our striving, a way that never fails, and a kingdom that does not end. Wow, this passage is rich, deep, broad, and strengthening.
Last Thursday, on Thanksgiving morning while I was sick, the three words came to my mind, "make every effort." I was quite sure that they were from this passage and just before the instruction to add virtue to faith, knowledge to virtue, and so on. When I got my Bible and looked it up, I was thrilled to be right!
What struck me was the force of the instruction make every effort! I use italics, underlining, and boldfacing there to show the sort of crescendoing impact of those three words as I hear them.
In verse 3, the Apostle Peter tells us that God's divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through knowing Jesus Christ. Then he turns around in solid apostolic fashion and tells us that we must do something in turn. We must make effort. The Gospel is opposed not to effort, but to earning. Even more though, we are to make every effort.
The effort we are to be making is clear: adding love to brotherly affection to godliness to steadfastness to self-control to knowledge to excellence (or virtue) to faith (to put in reverse order). And we are to be striving to take every opportunity to do so; every prayer, every service, every day, every song, every act, every thought, every word, every greeting, every project, every sermon, every car ride, every breath, every meal. We are to make every possible effort to grow from faith into love.
This short three-word phrase, "make every effort," is code for spiritual discipline and it is how we sow to the Spirit (Gal. 6:7-9). And it calls us to repentance for our lazy Christianity and sluggish spirituality. True faith is going to require action; spiritual growth will not come laying down; progressing towards love will require movement. This is not going to be a sit-in, no letting-go-and-letting-God here. No, we are to be actively striving and acting in every possible biblical way to grow from faith into love (with every supplement mentioned in vv. 5-7 added along the way, though I don't think the list is exhaustive).
This means the spiritual disciplines, both the personal and the communal, integrated into the very stuff of our life, our eating, drinking, breathing, working, playing, serving, all our moments and our days. Yes, we wait on God to grow us, but we are not idle: we do not wait by sitting, we wait by sowing.