Friday, February 6, 2015

February 6 – Stop being useless + unfruitful

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 HCSB)

When we talk about bearing fruit we usually think of the list in Galatians 5.  But in this passage other attributes of someone who pleases God are listed.  Verse 9 even says, “The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.”  Blind, shortsighted and forgetting God’s forgiveness are not words that describe a true believer.  That means that this list above is of utmost importance as a gauge to know if you are useful to God, or useless — fruitful for Him, or unfruitful.

Goodness, love and self-control overlap the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, but others listed here are not always given much consideration.  Knowledge is not just head-knowledge and theology, but a deep understanding of who God is and how He works.  When doubts attack at an emotional level – where they're most effective – it’s an unshakable knowledge that God is our shield and defender which keeps us stable and able to rebuke doubts.  For those who feel like they have no time to learn about God, to read His word or spend time communing with Him, then spiritual, fruitful knowledge will never happen.

We know that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, but endurance takes on another dimension.  That’s the motivation of a marathon runner who keeps up the pace in expectation and excitement.  The finish line may be miles away, but his driving goal is to make it, and in good time.  When the answers to our prayers seem to be taking ages to materialize, an immature Christian easily gives up in despair.  But the endurance to see the vision God has given you through till the end, is God’s power manifesting in you. 

And then there’s brotherly love, what people assume they have when they smile and act friendly in church, but which is actually very hard to find.  If you love someone as a brother or sister, you’ll care about their struggles, and even if you don’t exactly know how to help them, you’ll guide them towards faith, and to fight in the Spirit against whatever evil is attacking them.  It also includes tough love, calling up someone who has slipped away from faith and encouraging them to start believing again.  It reaches out to others in deep spiritual battles, and in simple acts of kindness.  It believes the best in your fellow believers and fights for them instead of tearing them down.  

And lastly godliness, which just means having the character and behavior of God.  That means a hatred for sin and evil, a love for His people and a desire to imitate Jesus in everything.  Whoever is lackadaisical in their attitude towards sin is someone who doesn’t value godliness, or God for that matter.  

God promises that we will be useful and fruitful in this life, as we make every effort to grow in all of these things — building one upon the other.  No matter how much effort this requires, it’s nothing compared to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and the daily love and care that He provides even though we are so undeserving. 

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