“For if you possess these qualities [goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love] in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8, [2 Peter 1:5-7], NIV).
What is virtue? Webster defines it as “conformity to a standard of right, a beneficial quality or power of a thing, strength or courage, or a commendable quality or trait.” When we conform to Christ's standard we become more like Him. In 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter presents a of list of character traits (virtues), and instructs us to apply these in our lives to become mature believers. The foundation on which we add these character traits is our faith in Christ. We make the decision to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. He brings the power to accomplish our decision. Without His foundation of faith in our lives, we can strive until we are exhausted to add these virtues, and never see positive growth. It is His power that makes the difference. Virtue is not only the result of belonging to Christ. It is the result of becoming more like Him in character and holiness.
When we accept Christ into our hearts by faith, we belong to Him. This is Christ's work of grace that sets us free, and gives us a new life in Him. His virtue has been birthed within us, and the power to become a believer who is spiritually mature is also ours. It is this surrender by faith to Him that begins the incredible journey to become all He desires for us. This journey of life in Christ is filled with trials, problems, and suffering which either speak defeat to a believer or build greater faith in God. As we make the decision to add these character traits in our lives, God's brings His power to help accomplish what might seem impossible. This life's journey which began by belonging to Him “grows us” to become more virtuous like Him. We become “conformed to His standard”. Living for Him becomes easier with each step because He has given us His strength to accomplish it.
Peter ends his list of character traits with 2 Peter 1:8. “For if you possess these qualities IN INCREASING MEASURE,” he writes, “they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8, NIV). Belong to Him! Become all that He calls you to be! With increasing measure, continue to “become” more like Him for the rest of your life. Allow the things you face in life to make you better instead of bitter. “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-3, NLT). Persevere, and keep trying. He will never disappoint you. He will never fail you. You will lack nothing. Your life will make a difference. Greater faith and a virtuous life will be your reward.