This past year I read a book by Stephen Smith called Inside Job: Doing the Work Within the Work. At the May 2019 Altar Fly Fishing Retreat, we took one day to reflect on a passage of Scripture (2 Peter 1:3-11) that was highlighted in this book as one considers the character, the inside work of our lives. Take a moment and read these verses and I will make just a few comments that may serve your own reflections as you consider the inside work of your life.
3 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. 4 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.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 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. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
First, God has already given you everything to know Him and grow in your faith. Knowing God is not just knowing facts about God. Knowing is a relational knowledge like you know a friend, spouse, or child. There is intimacy. You are called into a relationship. God has made the way for such a relationship with him.
Second, character (like the traits mentioned in verses 5-9) are engraved slowly. They are deep realities from which we live. As the classic definition of character says, it is who we are when no one is looking. I often look at the shapes, contours and banks of streams and rivers to remind me of character. Day after day, year after year, streams are being cut and formed through the consistent flow of the water. Some of this formation creates bends and deep holes. Somethings it carves deeply into banks. Sometimes an obstruction in the stream takes the flow in another direction. The formation of our character is much the same. The difference is that we have the opportunity to determine what flows into our lives and have the opportunity to remove obstructions. We determine the pace at which we are formed by God’s grace.
Christ-like character when engraved into your soul and life, produces:
- FAITH: dependent trust, deep belief that moves toward action
- GOODNESS: moral excellence, good character
- KNOWLEDGE: insight, understanding, spiritual understanding
- SELF-CONTROL: alert discipline
- PERSEVERANCE: steadfastness, passionate patience, focused direction
- GODLINESS: reverent wonder
- KINDNESS: brotherly kindness, mutual affection, friendliness
- LOVE: unselfishly seek the best for others, do things for their benefit
This is why verse 9 says we are nearsighted and blind if we do not pay attention to our character and formation. We have a role to play in our formation while at the same time, it is God’s work to bring our growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
Third, I love the way verse 10 calls us forward, “Make EVERY effort…” to confirm the good things God is doing, and wants to do, in you. Make EVERY effort. I confess I do not often live with that kind of intentionality all the time. I guess I get distracted or sidetracked by the currents or obstructions of life. But when I read those words, I feel the pull of God to go deeper with him and look deeper within myself. I DO want to the good stuff formed in me, in my character.
Take time to reflect on these verses and the questions below. May you make EVERY effort to know just know God, but to grow in his grace as you do the work within this work of your life.
- Spend a few minutes reflecting on the 2 Peter 1:3-11. What stirs in your mind and/or soul as you read these verses?
- Do you feel these character traits have been engraved in you? Are some more deeply ingrained than others?
- Do you sense you are making every effort to living into these character traits? Do you desire for your life to reflect these traits?
- Spend a few minutes praying and thinking about this season of life in light of these verses and reflections. Journal whatever comes to mind or what you feel God impressing upon your heart.