As we turn the page from 2015 to 2016 we begin the New Year with optimism. We’re hopeful the economy will continue to grow and get stronger. We look for signs that our job market might recover and therefore employ more people. Perhaps our foreign relations will improve and the world overall will be a more peaceful place for all to live. Certainly if any one of these optimistic hopes came to fruition we would see it as a definite sign of progress. But what about the Christian, do we have definite signs of progress we can look for in our spiritual lives? The Bible makes it very clear we can progress in 2016, or any year for that matter regardless of what’s going on in the economy, the job market, or foreign relations. Christians down through the centuries, all over the world, under every imaginable circumstance have been able to “progress” regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in, and so can we!
Peter writes in II Peter 1:5-9 outlining a “path of progress” for the Christian.
II Pet. 1:5-9- 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.
Peter summarizes the virtues that will produce a well-rounded, fruitful Christian life. Certainly this rather short summary involves an ongoing lifetime of commitment on our part, but the rewards are great and eternal rewards based on God’s faithful promises. We share the privilege of participating in the “divine nature” of God and through God’s wisdom we can escape the “corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (II Pet. 1:4) God promises that when we progress in “pocessing these qualities in increasing measure” we will be effective and productive in our walk of faith.
Peter makes it clear that it takes “effort” on our part to ad to our faith:
Goodness- moral excellence
Knowledge- correct insight and understanding of God’s word and His will
Self-Control- self- discipline stemming from consistency in applying God’s will to our lives
Perseverance- Bearing up under trials, remaining faithful regardless of any suffering involved.
Godliness- Godly Character out of devotion to God
Brotherly Kindness- love toward brethren
Love- an active goodwill toward those in need
Of course these are just a brief definition of the virtues outlined by Peter. It’s obvious we are called and challenged to do more than just grow in our “intellectual” knowledge of Jesus Christ! Knowledge of Jesus Christ is necessary but it’s just one of the graces necessary for us to “progress” in our faith. The more we grow in these “graces” the more we really “know” Jesus because He is the perfect personification of these “graces”. Let’s accept the challenge to “progress” individually and collectively as Christians in 2016 and throughout our Christian lives.

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