Qualities of Service
2 Peter 1:8-11
For if these things are yours and abound, they you to be not
idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that
lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the
cleansing from his old sins. Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to
make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, ye shall never
stumble: for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the
eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:8-11 ASV)
The apostle Peter outlined to his readers seven qualities of service for the Christian (2 Peter 1:5-7). Many people refer to these as the "Christian graces." To this writer, it would seem more appropriate to refer to them as the qualities that should be possessed by all Christians. The very nature of these "graces" will strengthen the character of any disciple. The absence of these qualities, even one of them, will deny one the joy that comes from being fruitful in God's service.
Who would question the value of faith, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brother kindness, and love? How could one profess to be a Christian when he does not seek to grow in all of these qualities? It is not possible for one to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might unless one adds all of the virtues to one's everyday living. The Christian will work to make each quality stronger so that the disciple will be more productive in God's service with each passing day. As Peter said, "For it these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:8). Either one grows in the Lord or one is fruitless; there is no alternative.
In the absence of any of these traits of a Christian, one is spiritually near-sighted (2 Peter 1:9). Also, there would be a loss of memory, "having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins"(2 Peter 1:9). Those who do not grow in the Lord place themselves in a dangerous condition. Guy N. Woods referred to the condition as "accepted forgetfulness." Such folks just accept their lack of spiritual vision and neglect to remember what God did for them. They need to be encouraged to look up while they look behind to what God did for them and look ahead for what the Lord has prepared for them.
The apostle Peter is encouraging them to "give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure" (II Peter 1:10). Effort must be put forth in order to be grounded in the qualities of service Peter outlined. One cannot sit and wait for all of these to drop out of the sky without any effort. The word "diligence" carries the idea of "hasten." Disciples must hasten, never faltering or tiring, to put forth the effort to acquire these values that mark the Christian. The sea of tranquillity has drowned many; don't be its next victim!
Peter identifies another reason for possessing the qualities of service: "For if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble" (2 Peter 1:10). The strength that one gains through the qualities of service will conquer any foe. Temptations will still abound, but the power to overcome Satan's efforts will be in the hearts of those who have added the "graces" that Peter encouraged each to possess. Perhaps the lack of these qualities helps us to understand why so many stumble, failing to live as a Christian.
While the starting point in the life of a disciple is faith and the ending "grace" is love, the other qualities make a bond of righteousness that "richly" supplies "the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11). Men search for earthly riches; the disciple of Christ accepts the riches of Heaven's reward. What is the quality of your life and what kind of riches (values) are you seeking?
[Editor's note: The preceding expository article comes from "Bible Insight" edited by Carey Dillinger and is a part of a series by him and other writers. Carey contacted me several weeks ago and suggested that we might be interested in publishing these articles. The series is quite good and Lord willing, Expository Files will be using these articles in future issues. Carey and the other writers have given their permission.
By James L. (Jim) Yopp
From Expository Files 8.1; January 2001