Tuesday, December 09, 2008



The four clanging cymbals are not satisfying personally and are offensive to the watching crowd. God has a different idea. Instead of an orchestra filled with clanging cymbals, He has in mind a full symphony of life.

In Peter's second book in the first chapter, Peter reveals that God is all about preparing us for living the life He wants us to live. He says: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

God through Jesus has already prepared us to participate in the dynamic of divine living with the ability of escaping the corruption that is in the world! He has done this by giving us His most special promises that we can count on.

In verses 8-11 Peter articulates the kind of promises God offers to us, if we will do certain things: For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if any of you do not have them, you are nearsighted and blind and you have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So, you can count on receiving these promises, if you add these qualities to your faith! If you possess these qualities and practice them, you will be effective and highly productive, you will not be blind in any way, you will be kept from stumbling and you will be given a special entrance into the Kingdom of Jesus. You will be welcomed and celebrated in a special way!

What are the qualities Peter lists? They are the eight qualities that we used to counter the four clanging cymbals. Let's take a look at them in context: For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-strength; and to self-strength, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

Each one builds on the preceding one. You start with faith. Then you add virtue, which is an initial commitment to follow through with your faith-to stand on your own two feet. To virtue (that initial commitment) add experiential, relational knowledge. Then add self-strength to your knowledge. At this point, you may feel you have it pretty much together. You have arrived at a certain level of self-strength.

It's at this point that you need to add perseverance. Just when you think you have it all together, you will find there are many other trials and tribulations you never ever experienced before thrown into your life. There is no amount of self-strength that can handle these. So, you must do all that you can; you must hold on for dear life or hang in there-perseverance. Then, after you have gone through the fires of these extraordinary trials and troubles, you will find that you will experience a new series of character qualities that will emerge in the midst of the trials. You are now taking on dimensions of godliness. What a satisfaction this is-to know you have gone through some of the worst experiences ever and you are rewarded for it by gaining some new and improved qualities in your life. It's at this point you understand that you cannot go through these struggles alone, but need to operate with a few others for support. This is brotherly kindness. The ultimate expression of a life that is growing and maturing is love-unconditional love. So, now you add this love to your faith. It's a full symphony!

These qualities are dynamic in that you may not be operating on all eight cylinders at any given time. And, you may be in the middle of cycling through these eight again. You may be working on knowledge and self-strength and find yourself rocking along. Or, you may be in a season of trials that have threatened to be overwhelming and all you can do is to add perseverance to your faith-to hold on for dear life and hang in there.

What I have seen is that you are somewhere along these eight qualities of life-cycling through them. The important thing is to know where you are right now and be able to anticipate what's next. No matter where you are along the way or where you may have left off, you must continue to get back to the music-to lay down your cymbals and keep playing your symphony.

Note what Peter cautions you to do. He says to make certain of your calling-that God is calling you. You see, even though in this passage you are urged to add these qualities to faith-you add them or literally: you lavishly supply them to your faith-walk, you are cautioned to keep your focus on who is calling the shots in your life. You are to add these things to your faith, but this is all in a heart response to the call of God upon your life. This is the essence of what discipleship is all about. Discipleship begins not with your choice, but with His call. Have you heard His call on your life? Are you listening for it?