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2 Peter 1:5-8 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens. 

This passage doesn’t ask much does it? (I ask with my tongue in my cheek.) This list of virtues can be a bit overwhelming at first glance.

This is such a huge passage to get my mind around, but as I look at it, I recognize a growing kind of pattern to the list: 

We start with proclaiming our faith in Christ Jesus as our Savior. Then we set out to do the good things that we know Jesus wants us to do. We soon realize that there is much we need to learn if we are going to follow his teachings. The more we learn, we begin to discover areas of our lives that we need to change requiring a measure of self-control. Some of these changes may be difficult for us, and we may struggle to persevere in them. As we make these changes we will show more godliness in our manner. This godliness should express itself in brotherly kindness to others, and ultimately a measure of love that only Christ can help us to attain.

Verse 8 tells why these qualities are so very important. If our Christian walk is to be effective we must continually reach higher in our relationship with Christ. What Christian in his/her right mind would be satisfied to be ineffective and unproductive?

I believe it would be helpful to print out this list of virtues as a challenge to ever grow in our faith. Here is the list if you would like to print it out. Or you may click on the link at the bottom for an MS Word file you can print out. I think it best to begin at the bottom as growing in our faith makes us taller in our faith.

Love

Brotherly Kindness

Godliness

Perseverance

Self-Control

Knowledge

Goodness

Faith

God’s Growth Chart (2)  (Click on link for 8.5 x 11 poster with clip art.)

Lord Jesus, enable us to see ourselves honestly in light of these virtues. Give us such a great hunger to know you better and to serve you more that we will grow closer to the top of this list day by day. Don’t let us settle to be second class Christians who are satisfied to blend in with the world and look and act like everyone else.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  

Luke 6:29-30 (NIV)

This is a tall order, but Jesus doesn’t ask us to do something he didn’t model for us.  He was willing to take the abuse, even upon a cross, in order to show the full extent of his love.  That still doesn’t make it easy for us to do.  We are so into getting our “rights,” anything good that we feel we are due; and we think nothing should ever stand in our way to get them.   

Mahatma Gandhi gives us examples of how he led the people of India in their struggle for freedom from British rule. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used Gandhi’s example to help the black American citizens gain the privileges that should have been theirs in the first place—to ride anywhere on a bus, to get a good education, to eat in any public restaurant, and more.   

Today it is difficult to even think of willingly taking abuse from another.  People are so quick to take anyone to court that crosses us.  I get upset about people taking my pens—my desk at work is close to the telephone and my room (school library) is where we have staff meetings, so I get cleaned out quite frequently by people who forget to bring a pen with them, yet they forget that the pen was borrowed when they leave.  I would probably do myself more harm than good if I made a big scene about this, and pens are relatively cheap.  But this is such a tame example of turning the other cheek. 

What about deliberate abuse that is vicious?  Verse 29 is referring to a form of physical assault.  That is really hard.  In the example given in the verse, I visualize the person receiving the assault as standing up—using his own strength and free will he stood there and offered the other cheek.  This is not a life threatening form of abuse.  I don’t feel that Jesus expects us to take life-threatening abuse and volunteer to come back for more unless there is some very high and worthy cause at stake that you are willing to die for, as in the case of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King.   

In the situation of an abused spouse, a choice must be made.  Will accepting the suffering bring the couple closer together, or will it bring the abuser closer to Christ?  I should think this situation should be bathed in much prayer.  The abused person needs to surround him/herself with prayer warriors.  And the abused person must be so filled with the joy of the Lord that, in spite of the abuse, he/she can still hold his/her head up with a sense of victory to effectively speak without words to his/her abusive spouse.  This is no small task. These two verses may ask at lot of us.  Are you ready to give Christ your all?

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

 It is one thing to love a friend, a brother, sister, parent, son or daughter who has hurt you.  That is because you value their friendship.  But what about your enemies–those people who rub you wrong today, yesterday and always… those people who oppose you at every turn?  Does God expect us to love them too?  These verses tell us that we are to love even our enemies.  

But God hasn’t asked us to do anything he hasn’t already done for us.  We crucified Jesus on a cross, yet Jesus responded saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  Jesus rebuked when it was necessary, but he never stopped loving his enemies. 

An insincere love is not love.  I have heard people say in bitterness and through gritted teeth, “I love him in the Lord.”  I don’t think God was impressed, however.  Until we are free of ill will, until we can think of them with a smile on our faces and in our hearts, we still haven’t forgiven them and we still aren’t loving them in our hearts. 

Verse 28 gives us the formula for overcoming those bitter feelings.  Jesus tells us to bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Lord give us the courage, strength, and desire to truly forgive our enemies.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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