Jump Start # 2730
2 Peter 1:5 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge.”
Here in our verse today we find what is commonly called the Christian virtues. These are qualities of the heart and character that must be added to our faith. They are not automatic. These are choices. Some have these, because they have chosen to grow in the Lord. Some lack these things, because they have not seen the value of adding these to their hearts.
Make every effort, or be diligent, as older translations refer to this, is the key. Effort, trying very hard, is another way of describing this. It’s putting in the extra hours of study to pass the test. It’s staying on the field or the court to practice even after the team has gone home. It’s putting in the time to make you the best that you can. It’s reading up on books that will help you be better at what you do. It’s always learning. It’s always pushing yourself. It’s never being satisfied where you are. It’s wanting to be the best that you can be.
Putting in the extra time to make a difference. Going the second mile. Doing more than what is required or expected. When one puts in the effort, it pays off in the end. Some are content to just barely pass while doing as little as possible. That reflects an attitude beyond school work. It’s shown in what they do at work. It’s shown in their walk with God. Do as little as possible, or put in the effort.
Some things come from this:
First, it is recognizing that I can still learn, grow and do better. Arrogance tells us that we have reached the mountain top. And, with that spirit, one will just float on what they have learned in the past. It won’t be long, and others will be passing that person. All of us can improve, including us preachers.
Second, it is recognizing how I get better. Some know that they ought to get better, but they don’t know how to accomplish that. Ask others what they are reading. Not the fiction stuff, but the kind of material that will help you be a better parent, or communicate better, or lead better. It’s talking to those who know what you don’t know. It’s asking questions. It’s being humble enough that you can learn from others, even younger than you are.
Third, it is recognizing that to improve hours and muscles must be poured into this project. We call that simply, “effort.” It takes effort to learn. It takes effort to work your way through books, videos and other tools that will help you. There are no short cuts. Devote the time and it will pay off.
Many years ago, I took a look, a very serious look, at some of the best writers in devotional books. I looked at how they saw passages. I learned how to see things that are right there in the text. Book after book, I read. I didn’t agree with many things these writers were saying doctrinally, but they had a masterful way of putting things into words. Concise. Practical. Easy to read. Short and to the point. And, what has happened is that it influenced not only the way I could see treasures in God’s word, but it impacted the way I wrote. That was a bridge I wanted to cross over and become better. Writing was never something I enjoyed in high school or college. Now, all these years later, I enjoy it and benefit from it. What happened was I put the effort into it. It was something that was important to me.
Fourth, it is recognizing that once you have put in the effort you become a useful help to others. You share what you have learned with others. You enrich the lives of others. You use your talents to help others.
Make every effort—here’s what it might look like spiritually:
- It’s the song leader who is not satisfied with singing the same songs that he is comfortable with. He listens to recordings of other songs. He practices at home. He asks others for help and advice. He is putting in the effort to be the best that he can be.
- It’s the Bible class teacher that looks for creative ways to teach God’s word. Never satisfied with just repeating the same lessons over and over, this person puts in the effort to find new class material that will fit what she is teaching. She watches videos of others to learn.
- It’s the shepherd who is always learning about leadership. He reads book after book about communicating, leading, connecting. He wants to be the best that he can.
- It’s the preacher who is always reading and learning. He talks to other preachers about what they are doing. He is never satisfied with his sermons. He wants to make them better. He wants to be better. He learns about the best technological tools on the market. He learns about social media and how to effectively spread God’s word that way.
- It’s the Christian who brings Bible, pen and notebook to services. He writes down all kinds of notes. He wants to remember. He wants to learn. He is never content with where he is.
Make every effort. Be diligent. Bust it. Pour your heart into it. You can become confident and comfortable with the Bible. You can be a person who truly prays to God. You can be a Barnabas to your congregation. You can do what you do even better.
It’s a matter of trying hard, which naturally leads to, How hard are you trying?