Apostle Peter's Formula for a Productive and Effective Life
The Secret to the Divine Life
In his second letter, the Apostle Peter told his readers that through Jesus Christ, God had given us everything we need for life and godliness. This means that God has revealed the secrets to living the best life possible and doing so in a way that will please him and make his name look good. This hub is about the formula Peter outlined to live a productive and effective life which will result in a rich welcome into God's eternal kingdom.
The keys to live a life pleasing to God and to enjoy your best life yet are:
4. Moral Excellence
8. Undying Devotion
9. Kindness and Compassion
10. Pure, unadulterated Love
Promise of Living a Victorious Life
To me the greatest promise ever given is that I can be forgiven of all my sins and have a personal one-on-one relationship with God. The second greatest promise ever given is that I can live a productive and effective life without bumbling and stumbling. Now, I do bumble and stumble. In fact, I do so quite often. But, my clumsiness does not diminish God's promise. The promise presented through Peter that, if I live according to certain life principles, I will never stumble or fall and I will receive a rich welcome into God's eternal kingdom.
Here are the words straight from Peter's letter:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self‑control; and to self‑control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Please note that in verse ten Peter says "if you do these things, you will never fall." This is an awesome promise. How do I live such an effective life as this?
Industriousness and Enthusiasm
Peter outlines the formula for a productive and effective life beginning in verse five.
He starts the discussion with the words: "make every effort..."
Just like anything else worthwhile, learning to live an effective life means putting forth a consistently positive effort. It takes enthusiasm for the task and a willing desire to be industrious and work hard. Now, as a Christian I know that any effort I make to improve my life has to be in conjunction with the leading and power of Gods' Holy Spirit. And let me note that we are not talking about earning eternal salvation; that comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But God desires that we live a productive life. He wants us to live our best lives possible and that does take effort on our part. Learning to live according to God's pattern will change our lives for the better, but you and I must take responsibility for our part in the process.
Next Peter writes "...to add to your faith."
The second step to an effective life is to cultivate faith in God and in yourself and others.
If you and I are to rise to the challenge of living a productive life, we must have a deep abiding belief that the goal can be reached and the mission accomplished. We must have faith that God means what he says and that he will guide us to live an effective life free from stumbling, when we organize our lives by his principles. Faith breeds hope and hope leads to perseverance in the hard times when we think we cannot make it.
Next Peter writes "add to your faith goodness."
To live effectively, you and I must not only have faith, but we must dedicate ourselves to live and act with pure motives and actions. To live in a pattern of goodness means to be upright in all our dealings and maintain a high standard of personal integrity. This means not doing anything in public or private that would cause you or others think less of yourself. In the last 10 years, the Anerican people have witnessed first hand what happens when business owners cut corners and or cheat. The repercussions of their actions have not merely brought their own demise; no! the impact of their poor, unethical even criminal decisions has been felt in every corner of the globe. To live a productive life that never stumbles or falls means maintaining the highest standard of moral excellence in everything we do.
Knowledge and Skill
The fourth characteristic of an effective life is knowledge.
Peter says: "add...to goodness,knowledge."
A person who wants to walk upright in God's ways must naturally have knowledge and understanding of God's ways. Knowledge of God and his principles comes from studying the Bible personally and through the help of a pastor or teacher. When proper knowledge is obtained then a person is able to do what is appropriate to please God.
This is true for any other occupation or hobby. A new employee must be trained in the rules of the company and must develop and maintain the relevant skill sets to become a productive and effective member of the enterprise. If you want to engage a hobby, you must obtain the proper knowledge and skill to make your time worthwhile. If you fail to obtain the correct knowledge and skill sets then you will definitely stumble and fall. Knowledge is a major key to success.
Next, Peter writes "add...to knowledge, self-control."
Temperance and self-discipline are other words for self-control. To be temperate means to have the self-discipline to keep your appetites under control. Self-control and knowledge are intimately related because it is impossible to be properly controlled when you do not know what is required. Without knowledge you will not know what rules to live by. In this sense, Peter gives us an accurate picture of life and the process of personal development. I may have faith in God; I may have a deep desire to live according to God's moral standard; but if I do not have knowledge of his standard then I am ignorant of how to do things God's way. I am bound to stumble and fall. But when I have a proper knowledge of God's path, then I can discipline myself to live within his guidelines.
Unfortunately, many, including myself, are fully aware of God's standard and in various degrees we willingly ignore or violate his standard. In this way, we become overcome by our own basic instincts and appetites and lose the ability to exercise temperance or self-control.
This is true in the business world. People are conditioned to think that business is business. Everyone cheats one way or another. If you want to get ahead and cash in, you have to do whatever is necessary. Hey, if I don't the competition will. This is also true in Little League baseball. Grown men, who are entrusted with teaching their players how to play fair, act like they're playing GI Joe with live action figures (namely their sons and daughters) attempting to win the most important game in baseball history. Instead they teach their that anything goes in order to get the almighty "w".
Temperance or self-control is a pivotal point to living an effective and productive life. It is the place where we get tripped up most. The average American has become addicted to adrenaline and prone to wild sprees of instant gratification. The current financial crisis connected with the housing market is a glaring example of how living outside our means has led us to the brink of disaster. Many have already fallen over the edge with still more to come.
To get the higher places in life in legitimate fashion, you and I must choose to exercise temperance and self-control or our path to the most effective life will be derailed.
"to self-control [add] perseverance."
Perseverance or longsuffering is the ability to continue on the path no matter the intensity of the pain involved. The productive and effective life is built over the long haul. It does not develop immediately overnight. It takes time and effort and consistency. Self-control and perseverance are connected. The ability to withstand the pressures of the fight without falling is directly proportional to how you and I exercise self-control in our lives. When we are prone to give in to our appetites, we will have less ability to withstand tougher struggles in life. To live our best life possible we must have the courage to persevere.
"to perseverance [add] godliness."
The Greek term for godliness means to be devout. It means to become intensely loyal to the cause. If you are attempting to walk with God, being devout means being utterly and completely committed and consecrated to his kingdom and the ways of his kingdom.
Here again, Peter accurately describes the process of personal development because perseverance in a cause does lead to a deeper devotion for the cause. I have found this to be true for good and not so good endeavors alike.
The older I get the more set in my ways I become. You know why? I'll tell you why: it is because my ego is too fragile to face the fact that I may have wasted my life on an improper pursuit. Instead of looking at my unwise actions square in the face or calling my less than best lifestyle choices for what they are, I shrug my shoulders and say "oh well that's the way it goes and what's so bad about those life choices anyway."
The point is: persevering in a cause whether it be as a couch potato or high achiever of the most noblest things will lead us to a more intense devotion to that cause.
This is especially true if the cause delivers the desired results. Shedding blood, sweat and tears for a mission that does not deliver on its promises will lead to cynicism and depression. But, putting forth a strong effort for a team trying to accomplish something larger than yourself or the team leads to a lifetime of loyalty and devotion.
Kindness and Compassion
"to godliness (devotion) [add] brotherly kindness."
Although we act like it sometimes, we do not live on this planet alone or isolated. To live an effective and productive life involves being generous and kind to other people around you. Anyone who dares to take credit for being a self-made success is self-deceived and anyone who doesn't have even the slightest compassion for the less fortunate is blind and short-sighted. If you are master salesperson, you have to have products to sell which are often made by someone else. What good would it do to be the best heart surgeon without the proper instruments to cut open the patient or monitor their vital signs? What could you buy in the produce section of the market if not for the farmers who grow crops? No one can do everything; we are all limited in time and abilities causing us to be interdependent. We were made for relationship and companionship. If we claim to be devoted to God's ways, then we will care deeply about what God cares about. What God cares about the most is humankind.
Every human being is precious to God and he wants each one to thrive and grow to their optimal level. True success can only be found when a person has a high value for other human beings and is moved to interact with them out of kindness and compassion.
Pure, Unadulterated Love
"to brotherly kindness [add] love."
The culmination of all the aforementioned traits is pure unadulterated and unconditional love.
The following is a description of this kind of love was given by Paul another follower of Jesus. When you read it you can see that it includes the traits of the same effective and productive life that Peter wrote about:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self‑seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
When you faithfully practice the other seven traits in essence you become a pure expression of love. You will be synonymous with love and you will be complete. Few if any people have ever attained this standard. But the pursuit is worthwhile and you can live an effective and productive life that never falls or fails if you consistently put Peter's principles into practice.