Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Never Fall





             What is the key to never failing in life? Your character. What is the key to developing your character? Knowing Christ.


            That simple principle obviously doesn't originate with me. It comes from someone who knew a thing or two about failure and then starting over. Simon Peter, one of Jesus' most intimate partners in ministry wrote at the end of his life these words: "... if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:7). A few verses later, he continues "if you practice these qualities, you will never fall."



            Consider for a moment the kind of questions an average person who desires to make a real difference with his or her life asks. I will put it in a way that it might actually sound in our heads. Am I good at what I am doing? Is this really making a difference? How long can I hold it together? Ability. Impact. Integrity.

            I don't think this is a question asked simply by men as opposed to women, but as a man who is in a period of transition in his life, all these questions exist in my mind daily. I am at the mid-life stage when I have a great deal of opportunity and challenge yet before me. However, I face some of the same questions a student coming out of college or university might face. Am I up to the challenges that come with this next phase of life? How do I keep my life from being a waste of energy? Can I finish the race without making a complete moral mess like it seems the news media daily portrays?

            It is amazing how easy it is to falter and to fail. A big story here in Florida as of late was of a respected retired police officer who shot a young father in a movie theatre. He killed the young dad for texting the baby sitter during the movie previews after an argument in which the younger man lost it and threw his popcorn at the older man. What a tragic waste!

            While that is an extreme example, it does show that life can be wasted easily, tragically, and totally unnecessarily. In 2 Peter, Simon Peter is about to die. He writes his final letter and says that it is possible to get through your life and not be ineffective, unproductive, or a complete failure. How? By developing and practicing godly Christian character.

            Peter writes "if these qualities are yours and are increasing...". He adds "if you practice these qualities you will never fail." That is the English Standard Version translation of Peter's words which actually read "if you practice these things". However, it is in reference to a list of qualities that Peter encourages his readers to develop. He writes "make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge, self-control and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love."

            You don't need a college degree to grow in these things. You are never too old to start again. Think about what Peter says. Never be ineffective. Never be unfruitful. Never fall. You don't have to go back to school. You just need to begin to make your character the priority project of your personal life.

            We often hear about people honing their skills and perfecting their craft. From God's perspective, the most important priority is possessing, increasing, and practicing godly character. How do we do that? Peter says that everything we need is found in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. He writes "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence."

            I plan to write more about this later. It is just important to start by realizing this: God has granted to us all that is necessary to be the people that He placed us on earth to be. It is His gift to us. That gift is not a bursary or scholarship to a school of advanced academic learning. It is access to the living school of His Son, Jesus Christ. Ignorance of Christ guarantees ineffectiveness, fruitlessness, and failure in that which matters most. A deepening knowledge of Jesus Christ guarantees that we will have all we need to be who God designed us to be. Ability. Impact. Integrity. These are what God guarantees in the school of His Son.

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