Supplements of faith
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.10 Therefore, brothers,[g] be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (II Peter 1:5-10)
Faith is like a crown
St. Peter writes few practical suggestions for Christian growth. Faith is the basic foundation on which the whole edifice of a Christian spiritual life is built upon. In fact faith is like a crown decorated with seven jewels.
The life journey of a disciple of Christ begins with faith. Indeed faith is a gracious gift of God. It is based on the knowledge revealed through the Holy Scripture. The object of faith is the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is not possible to please God without faith. (Hebrews 11:6) Whatsoever that does not originate with faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
Jewel 1: Virtue (moral excellence)
Goodness or virtue or moral excellence is the natural divine quality that should be expressed in a Christian lifestyle. This is not an external appearance but an inner quality. In fact, St. Peter places virtue or moral excellence before knowledge. The world may prefer the other way round.
Moral excellence is beyond legal and courteous requirements. For example, as required by Law, Pharisees paid tithes but neglected justice, mercy and love. (Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42)
For example, a person may not verbalize his thought about his brother. Outwardly, the person is courteous and respectful, but inwardly he harbours hatred and bitterness. Even the very attitude and thought of hatred towards his brother is sin. Moral excellence in thought and attitude is a mark of a Christian that could not be scrutinized by legal measurements and social niceties.
Jewel 2: Knowledge
The knowledge Peter writes, is based on the revealed Word of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7) King Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches or military conquests. (I Kings 3: 1-15) Worldly knowledge puffs up a person. (I Corinthians 8:1) “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17) True knowledge is holy and pure, without criminal intention or corrupt mindset or biased and judgmental. The knowledge that God provides is peaceable and gentle (courteous, polite). A person with divine wisdom is humble, willing to learn, serve and to accept correction. This knowledge is merciful and gracious in relationships. The fruit of this knowledge is good, pleasing and a blessing. This knowledge does not allow people to discriminate or be partial.
There are people with knowledge which is used for ignoble purposes. For example: Political wisdom to manipulate people, bureaucratic wisdom to abuse power, criminal wisdom to do ID thefts and do white colour crimes, legal wisdom to exploit and oppress others. Such worldly smart wisdom is not rooted in faith on Lord Jesus Christ.
Jewel 3: Self-control
This means to have full grip or control over oneself. Firm grasp over thoughts, attitude, reason, desires, ambitions and longings. Our body has to serve the spirit and soul and not vice versa. Body has to be disciplined and brought under absolute control. (I Corinthians 9:27) Instead of listening to the body, a believer should train the body to listen to the soul and spirit. For example, the body would prefer to sleep rather than toil; or the body would prefer feasting in place of fasting. Such preferences and choices should not be entertained.
There is need for self-control in the thought life too. “Mind is a monkey” states a Tamil proverb meaning the thoughts jump from one to another like a wandering monkey. Mind could stray from godly thoughts to ungodly thoughts. A believer should immediately apply the brake and stop such unwarranted wanderings that leads to sin.
Jewel 4: Steadfastness (Perseverance)
Steadfastness is doing right, even when circumstances are not favourable. Steadfastness is doing right even when there is loss, pain, sorrow, grief and suffering. Steadfastness is consistency and reliability. It is easy to predict the behavior of a steadfast person. For example, a person cannot be lured or made to compromise for Rs.100 or Rs. 100 or Rs. One million. The response would be consistent. A steadfast parent or teacher would be consistent in disciplining and guiding.
Jewel 5: Godliness
Godliness is a spiritual experience that makes us God conscious all the time. The presence of God is understood, grasped and practiced in day to day life. Godliness is the mark of a blessed persons who are awake, agile and alert for His Coming. When the Master returns, the servants should be ready, alert and should have done what they ought to have done. (Luke 12:37) Moses pleaded with God that God’s presence should go with him as he goes on to lead the Children of Israel. (Exodus 33:15)
“But Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6) Godliness dispels consumerism, covetousness, and greediness. A person of faith will be godly, which is true spirituality. A jaywalker crosses the road, believing that the traffic police is not around. A godly person is conscious that God watches over, even when there is no cctv or a traffic police, hence abides by the law.
Jewel 6: Brotherly affection
“Brotherly affection denotes that all disciples of Lord Jesus Christ belongs to one family, the Family of God. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3;28) The brotherly affection crosses all human boundaries of culture, race, caste, class, clan, language, and nation. This relationship in Christ is more intimate and deeper than any other relationship of kinship in the world.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) demonstrates brotherly love which the world describes as human value. The Good Samaritan was not like the Priest or Levite but different. His affection transcended boundaries of race, language, region, class and religion. Christians are called to demonstrate such brotherly affection.
However, this quality is missing in churches today. People like to celebrate their personal relationship with God but ignore the fellow worshipper. Sacrificial giving for fellow brethren is mark of Christian maturity.
Jewel 7: Love
“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated true love that is sacrificial, gracious, generous even towards sinners, rebels and ungodly. (Romans 5: 1-5) God expects the same kind of love towards fellow believers and fellow human beings. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (I John 3:16)
However, In the last days, love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12) Also there is another sign or trait in the last days: people will be lovers of self and lovers of money. (II Timothy 3:2)
Faith in Lord Jesus Christ is basic requirement for Christian life. The faith has multiple effect that transforms a person. In other words, true faith is demonstrated and expressed through the seven things: Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. In fact, faith cannot be latent or hidden but always revealed and displayed in the lifestyle of the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ.