Growing In Graces
By sis Ong Siew Siew
2nd Peter 1:5 - And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
Verse 6 - And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
Verse 7 - And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
Verse 8 - For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The above are verses that I often come across during sermons and bible classes. Due to regurgitation, I usually just read them as attributes that a Christian should have and end with that. Upon closer reading, these attributes are like a progression from one to another. Here, I’m hoping to share how these attributes may possibly be connected.
Faith, Virtue, Knowledge
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), while virtue is often defined as behaviour and attitude showing a good innate moral compass. We are called to develop our belief in God into intrinsic and natural character/ behaviour that is actionable unto goodness. Virtue has to be informed/aligned with the knowledge of God’s word, and not with man’s own understanding of what righteousness might be (Proverbs 3:5-6). We should be comfortable and yearn to do the right thing because it is God-approved.
Hope, Temperance, Patience
Studying the Bible helps us to better understand the promises of God, knowing that our hope is not in vain. The urge to do good coupled with discernment of God’s word requires self-control because choosing to do the right thing may not necessarily be the easiest action. Trials and temptations are common, whether we are at our lowest or highest point in life. While Satan could possi-bly throw us different challenges, the real challenge is often ourselves, caving in to our desires. That is why we are told to take heed lest we fall (1st Cor 10:12), and be patient with ourselves.
Godliness, Phileo, Agape
1st Corinthians 13:13-And now abided faith, hope, charity; these three; but the greatest of these is charity. Faith is built around the concept of love. We know God loved us first, and to reciprocate His love, we should exercise godliness and love (1st John 4:18-19) in return. Godliness is defined as reverence, respect, and piety towards God. Just as our biological parents loved us, so we should in turn love them and give them respect and our filial piety.
After internalizing the above, we can then look out for the needs of those in the household of faith. We could also help our brethren to work together to-wards godliness. From there, as a church, we can shine our light on others around us who do not know God by being the light of the world that God wants us to be (Matthew 5:16). We further extend that love and benevolence that God has for us to those outside the church in hope of spreading the good news to all who are lost. Agape is defined as the fatherly love of God for humans as well as the human reciprocal love for God. We are compelled to evangelize because we love God and God loves man.
In conclusion, let us bear in mind that these Christian attributes take time and lots of personal conviction to cultivate. Let’s encourage one another and seek God’s providential care for us as we journey on in this Christian race together.