Self-Control and Steadfastness: 2 Peter 1:6

Paul says in Galatians 5:6: “the only thing that counts for anything is faith expressing itself through love.” He has Peter’s hearty “amen.” 2 Peter 1:3-12 is all about this movement, from faith to love. God’s many gifts in Jesus become real to us as we go on this journey in the Spirit, supplementing our faith so that it becomes love.
What’s the second hardest thing about believing in Jesus? Opening our heart to Him. What’s the hardest thing about faith in Him? Enduring. Being steadfast. (Eph 6:13; Rev 13:10)
What is the second hardest part about loving a sinner? Having self-control. What is the hardest thing about loving a sinner? Enduring. Being steadfast.
Weekenders, conventions, events, classes, seminars, concerts: these can be helpful and important. But they are easy. The grind is hard. Courses are easy; decades are hard. Honeymoons are easy; golden anniversaries come hard. College is easy; careers are hard.
In the Old Testament, what is the single most common adjective for God’s single most defining attribute? “Steadfast love.” Hesed. Covenant Love. 191 times throughout the Old Testament. Twenty-six times in Psalm 136 alone: “for His steadfast love endures forever… for His steadfast love endures forever… for His steadfast love endures forever.”
(I love the way The Jesus Storybook Bible says it: He loves us with a Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.)

This has to be God’s singularly defining trait if it’s a relationship with sinners that He wants. And He does. And the same is true for us. Without steadfastness, there can be no hope of love for sinners. Without steadfastness, there can be no hope of a relationship with a sinner. Without steadfastness, there can be no hope of community with sinners.
And so it has to be present among us.
First of all, because it is so essential to who God is, it is likewise essential to who we are. That is, it is of our essence. If we have received God’s Spirit, then steadfastness will characterize our love. “The fruit of the Spirit is love…faithfulness.” (Gal 5:22) It’s a mark of this God’s Spirit in us.
Second of all, because it is Jesus. Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of God’s steadfast love. He is the embodiment of it. Long after God should have—by human standards—torched the whole business, He persists in doing good. And not just any good, but the greatest good He could possibly have done: coming to us, the way He did, in the Son, as a servant, with mercy, suffering for us, pouring out His Spirit. We are the people of Jesus; we are the people of God’s steadfast love.
Now, this can sound intimidating, but it’s not meant to. Steadfastness is not a skill we acquire over time, like callouses. It is a gift we inherit along with every other good thing. It comes from God in Jesus by the Spirit. It’s His. It’s His, not ours. It’s only ours in any way because it’s His and He gives it to us. So if we need steadfastness in a relationship, in a situation, in our own selves, we know where to go for it. Go to the headwaters. Go to the fount. Go to Jesus.
And the people in our lives who need Jesus, who need the love of God, where shall they go? They come to us for the steadfast love of God in Christ. In our love. In our witness to His love.

Nothing has shaped me more than the love of the people God has put around me. Their love has discipled me. And not by single, isolated, moments or gifts or kind words or acts of service, but by the steadfastness of their love. They keep showing up. They keep hoping for me, praying for me. They keep being kind. I can’t believe it.
It’s unbelievable. It’s utterly holy. It’s His. It’s theirs. Now, it’s mine.

Thanks, God. Thanks, everybody.
To Consider:
Where do you feel like you could use some “steadfastness” in your faith or in your love?
Where have you recently experienced God’s steadfastness toward you? From whom?
As we approach Good Friday and Easter weekend, think about the steadfastness of Christ. How does His steadfastness toward the Father, and toward you, encourage you?
Can you think of anyone in your regular-life who would be blessed by some steadfastness? How could you share God’s steadfastness with them? How could you be steadfast for them?

Photo by Michał Mancewicz on Unsplash