2 Peter 1:5b, “Supplement your faith…”
We have been reminded that God has given us everything we need to live well. What we have in Jesus is more than enough. We are now ready to make every effort to… do what?
“Supplement your faith.” This word is translated elsewhere, “supply,” “nourish,” and “provide.” Doesn’t that sound nice? It’s not about fixing a problem as much as making an already good thing better. You have faith. You trust the Gospel. Great! Do you know what would make it even better?! What would help you enjoy your faith more, help your faith make an impact in your world, and help draw more attention to Jesus? That’s what this list is talking about. Don’t think of it as a shopping list without-which you’ll never be able to cook anything good. Think of it like a kid in a candy store, “I want this… and then I want this… and then I want…” It’s about thriving, rejoicing, exulting. It’s about being eager and excited to face a project you’ve long desired to begin. We’re not patching holes in our hot-air balloon; we’re aloft! Full of a faith and off to see, and to change, the world!
“Supplementing” our faith isn’t about deficiencies as much as it’s about proficiencies. It’s not that you’re bad; it’s that you’re getting better.
Now, before we get into the specifics of our list, let’s consider the list as a whole: 2 Peter 1:5-7, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, affection, love.
First, while some Bible teachers discern a subtle order to this list, most think that Peter does not have a sequence in mind—i.e. “first step is faith, second step is virtue, third step is…” Rather, the list is meant to be read as examples of a discipleship journey. In other words, since you have faith, don’t forget about virtue. And if you’re on a “virtue-kick,” don’t forget about growing in knowledge. And if you love knowledge, make sure you're growing in self-control.
The point is that wherever we are in our disciple-journey, every one of us has aspects of the faith we’re strong in and areas we ought to grow in. Peter later says, “I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” (1:12) The point is: Great job! Now keep going and growing!
Second, while the list can feel random, there’s a clear path: from “faith” (5) to “love” (7). This reminds us that the overall shape of our Christian lives ought to be characterized by our faith—our beliefs, ideas, practices, habits—becoming love. Jesus says it: “First, love God with your whole self. But second, love your neighbors way better than you do.” So, grow in faith, and faith produces love. Jesus’ little brother James says, “Faith without works is dead.” (Jam 2:17) Paul says he lives, “to bring about the obedience of faith.” (Rom 1:5) So wherever we are at in the disciple-journey, we’re on a path from faith to love. If we ever are in loveless-faith, or faithless-love, then we’re…lost.
Life is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? We find friends along the way, meet beautiful people, see beautiful things—and even in dark-places we may discover bright-shining gems of love, pin-pricks of starlight and precious. We get to help people, to stand up to evil, to serve quietly, and sometimes to tell someone we love them. And sometimes show them. We get to be helped up, to be stood-by, to discover quiet service on our behalf, and sometimes to hear someone tell us we are loved. And sometimes we really see it.
What we need for this life, we have in Jesus. And the more we supply ourselves with what He’s supplied to us, the more beauty we’ll see and the more beautiful we’ll be. We’ll pass from faith to love…from our faith to something others can see. Aren’t you eager to make every effort for that?
It's a long journey. We'll get blisters; we'll get wet; we might get heat-stroke or frost-bit. It's true. But the journey of a disciple is walked hand-in-hand with Jesus, heart-in-heart with the Spirit, with the Father hovering like a clucking hen. And every step may—no, will—supply sight, grace, strength, and love to our spirits. So take the step. Make the effort.
“The path is life…” (Psa 16:10)