This actually came up in Sunday School several weeks ago, but I was thinking of it again and wanted to share it.
In 2 Peter chapter 1, the author reminds us that God’s “divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness,” then goes on to list a progression:
Make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
As the mother of young children who’ve made a confession of faith, I suddenly saw this differently than I had before.
I saw this as a list of spiritual development paralleling stages of natural development.
The girls have each made a confession of faith, so that is their starting place. In this new context, with the Spirit’s help, they are now learning goodness.
As a few more years go by their main occupation will become their schooling (adding knowledge). Then, I see this exponentially applying to the adolescent years, they add in increased self-control.
As a young adult (I want to say especially as a young parent) we add endurance, because I think we never truly learn how much we can be stretched until “child(ren)” happens to us.
I see godliness as something we all are working toward, but that we see most consistently in, well, in people older than me.
As a tendency to base the majority of your behaviors off of obedience to a very clear understanding of what God would have us do, I see godliness as something that takes a bit of familiarity with the Word and sensitivity to God’s leading in your life.
Something, in short, most visible with spiritual maturity.
And to finish with the brotherly kindness and love, I think this is the natural progression of our interaction with others. Initially (and this is where I’m at in teaching my children right now), we choose to be kind, because it’s the right, God-honoring thing to do.
Ultimately, we want everything we do to be motivated by love.
When we are genuinely doing everything out of a pure love, that, I believe is the measure of maturity.
Very cool thoughts! I can’t wait to have an excuse to use this during a lesson some day. I’m going to ponder that verse tonight!
Wow! I hadn’t really thought it through that way, either. Thanks for sharing though, it really helps. My oldest has made a confession of faith as well, and often gets flustered that “she still does bad things” or frustrated when I remind her of how God wants us to act, etc. It might be helpful to show her that this a period of learning goodness, and that it’s the next step in the process. :)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It’s good to know that we can never outlearn God’s Word. No matter how many times we go through a certain passage, it is always possible to get more lessons from it. Praise God! :)