In 2 Peter 1:5-11 we find a passage that begins with this challenge.
“Make every effort to support your faith with...goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love…” 2 Peter 1:5-7
Most Christians readily agree that it’s a powerful thing to allow God to continue growing these characteristics in our hearts and lives. Something rich happens in our faith in Jesus when we say yes to him in these areas. But these are not just arbitrary qualities that it would be “nice” to have. According to this passage, they are vital for our walk with the Lord because they keep us from a stagnant relationship with God. Peter goes on to say,
“If these things [listed above] are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8
The implication here is that there is a danger that can come over any Christian to be ineffective and stagnant in our walk with God. There is the possibility that we can grow calloused, skeptical and even bitter at the idea of God at work in our daily lives. This comes about, when we don’t allow the these qualities to keep growing in us. This in turn leads us to no longer pursue God’s purposes in our world and to stop seeking his kingdom and his justice. It leads us to be complacent with our title or our culture being “christian” but not a spirit-led life that depends on him for mission and holiness.
The Real Tragedy Behind and Ineffective and Unfruitful Christianity
But the real tragedy of what happens when we cease to grow in goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love, is found in this next verse.
"Anyone who lacks these things [mentioned above] is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins." 1 Peter 1:9
I believe that ‘forgetting that our past sins have been cleansed’ is the ultimate low in the life of the believer. This is because it not only means that we are stagnant in our faith, it means that we have not remembered to what great length Christ has gone for us to be reconciled back to him. It’s one thing to feel distant from God, this happens to all of us in this journey of life. But it’s another thing altogether to fail to remember what God has done for us by his great forgiveness on the cross. Peter is warning the church of this great tragedy and warning us of the danger of actually forgetting that our past sins have been forgiven. This has led so many to think that God no longer loves them and is no longer wanting to redeem their lives. It has led many to give up on their walk with God and to abandon their faith altogether.
Many of us today are in danger of letting this become our reality. We go days, weeks, months without pausing to reflect on what a miracle it is that God has already forgiven us. Some of us have grown so accustomed to the idea of being forgiven that we’ve even maybe tuned it out or we’ve arrogantly embraced it as something we are entitled to. Others of us are still in denial that God would forgive us and we think we still somehow owe God for our sins. Either way we look at it, it’s a loss for the Christian and for the community when we forget that past sins have been cleansed.
The One Habit of Highly Effective Christians
So what’s the antidote to all of this? How can we move from being ineffective and unfruitful to being effective and fruitful in our life with Christ?
Here’s where I want to share with you what I’m calling the One Habit of Highly Effective Christians. It’s found in our next verse.
"Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.” 2 Peter 1:10-11
That’s it. It’s right there in verse 10. Did you see it? I bolded it for you to see it more easily too. “Confirm your call and your election.” Maybe this sounds odd or weird to you. But it simply means this:
Take the time to realize that you have indeed been called by God and have actually been chosen by God to be his Church!
Let this become a habit. Everyday, take the time to recall this to your memory. Everyday, Remember that your sins have indeed already been cleansed and forgiven. Everyday, read the stories of Jesus or meditate on the word of God so that you can be reminded that you have been made new in Christ. Everyday, take the time to remind other believers that they already are the chosen bride of Christ! Every day, remind your soul that it is already being redeemed by God now! Confirm your call and your election, everyday. Make that a habit of yours to always to remind yourself that you are indeed a forgiven child of God! This is what I want to call the One Habit of Highly Effective Christians. Christians who do this are more effective in their walk with God and in their serving of our world. They are not perfect, but they seek to live in deeper trust of the perfect forgiveness of our Lord.
If we make this a daily habit, it allows us to focus on his purpose for our lives and it helps us notice when we are going astray; whether if by self-guilt and condemnation or by over-indulging in sinful patterns. When we sin, confirming our call and election allows us to confess and get back up and continue in our journey with God. Instead of wallowing in self-hatred or in trapped sinful behaviors, we can admit our sin to our Heavenly Father and we move forward with Him in his love and in his mission. This allows us to rest in God’s grace and to depend on his forgiveness as the reason we now want to walk in holiness with him.
This will keep us from falling away from the faith. It will allow us to look forward to our final redemption on that Day when God’s will has been fully accomplished and God’s kingdom has found its final resting place here on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This Lenten season, may we enter into a new habit of remembering that we are the forgiven children of God, so that we can live for Christ with more boldness than ever before.
P.S. For further reading on this topic, click here for the article “Why I’ve stopped asking God to Forgive Me” from Lent 2014