“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
When I was a little girl I played soccer, not because I loved it but because my father loved it and I wanted to please him. However, one time an opposing player fell when we were competing for possession of the ball and I stopped to help them up. (As you can imagine, my father was not pleased.) Although I wouldn’t recommend this as a winning strategy, I would argue that this is a great picture of how to live in the world but not of it. As believers we are to live in peace with everyone and be holy (set apart) at the same time. This takes effort, awareness and humility.
Having said that, living in this world as a Christian is not easy. Rejection and ridicule await us at every turn. Many people view us as enemies, considering our faith evidence that we are delusional, have an imaginary “friend,” and are a danger to society. Or, at best, they view Christianity as a boring way to live. So, why try? Is there something more that we are living for than to rise above the fray or to be helpful? Peter tells us to “…make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ“ (2 Peter 1:10-11). This is the reason why – You will NEVER stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into Jesus’ eternal Kingdom.
For certain, understanding this verse will motivate you to “run the race with endurance” without a second thought about other’s perceptions. But, to understand it you need to know what “these things” are and how to “do” them. First, in 2 Peter 1:3, Peter reveals a great promise saying, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a Godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” Second, since Jesus has rescued us from death (eternal separation from Him) and has given us everything we need for life and Godliness, we are compelled by His love to make every effort to add to our faith goodness, or virtue (2 Peter 1:5). The practical way to walk this out is to avoid things that corrupt the soul, turning our hearts and minds away from God. For example, pornography, sexually explicit novels, movies burgeoning with murder, sex or profanity, gossip, drunkenness, or even negative self-talk is like junk food that spoils our appetite for life giving food that encourages spiritual growth. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says it this way:
“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
Only when we have virtue can we grow in the knowledge of God, have self-control, persevere, be Godly, love fellow believers and love our enemies, which is the progression of growth Peter is referring to in the first chapter of 2 Peter. This is also what is meant in Romans 12:2 when it says, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Fortunately, the list of don’ts is not a legalistic standard, rather a matter of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit abiding in us, while at the same time, convincing us of what is good and what is not. Also, there are practical ways to set ourselves apart (consecration) for the Lord through a “good” spiritual diet. Things like memorizing scripture, meditating on the Word, being still before the Lord, prayer, fellowship, confession and repentance, serving others, and sharing the Gospel infuse us with life giving bread that more than satisfies. If we do these things because we desire to know God and not because we are trying to earn His acceptance, we will not only be rewarded in this life with intimacy with God, but we will also be rewarded for eternity! What a promise!
In other words, if you pursue God you will never fall. Press on, run hard, persevere because there is a crown. More than that, there is a Savior who desires intimacy with you. Others may not understand what propels us in the faith but we know that God is faithful and He will fulfill His promises. We need to be reminded of these things often. This is another reason to be in the word. Shout from the sidelines, encourage others to press on, pick those up who have fallen, grabbing them by the hand, and run fast into eternity. A rich welcome awaits!
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
2 Peter 1:5-9