Because that is what practicing means.
Reading in 2 Peter 1: 2-11
From verse 2
“His divine power has granted unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
Through the knowledge of God, of Jesus, through his promises, one of them being that if I believe on his Son I will be born again, and so become a partaker of His divine nature. Therefore by this and through Jesus he has granted to me all things that I need to live a life of godliness. I get to be a partaker of his divine nature, by which he has made a way of escape for me, from the corruption in the world.
Peter then says in verses 5 to 9
“FOR THIS VERY REASON, (what reason? To live a life of godliness, through his divine nature in us, and to escape the corruption of the world), make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self- control,
and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.
For IF these qualities are yours and are INCREASING, they keep you from being
INEFFECTIVE or UNFRUITFUL in the KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
For whoever LACKS these qualities is so NEARSIGHTED that he is blind, having
FORGOTTEN that he was cleansed from his former sins.”
If I don’t practice this, I am going to end up blind, forgetting that I have been cleansed from my former (or should be, former sins).These qualities therefore need to be increasing, growing in me, in my character, choices and life. Knowledge, the knowledge of Him, knowledge of His word and His ways. Virtue. Self-control. Steadfastness, which is sticking, endurance, patience. Godliness, holiness. Brotherly affection, caring for our brothers and sisters. And love. Love that speaks the truth ,l ove that genuinely cares for someone’s best, love that puts others needs above their own. Supplementing the faith that I have received by being born again and born of His spirit to life.
If I lack these qualities, I am BLIND, forgetting what I have been saved from and are continually saved from- sin.
In verse 10 he says:
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more DILIGENT to make your calling and election SURE,
for if you PRACTICE these qualities you will never fall.”
I need to be diligent, hardworking and careful, practicing these qualities with care and serious effort. TThat is what diligent means.
As a ballet teacher, as an artist, as in all things, practice makes perfect. Actually it’s never perfect, but it makes for more successes. More success in completing that triple pirouette consistently. More success in faster and more accurate footwork and batterie ( small quick beaten steps). Training through the fundamentals and basics of pointe work, day after day after day, until I have built up the strength to go on to more advanced work.
When he says, if you practice these qualities, you will never fall, does that mean you will never fall? Never fail? No. That would be impossible. But it means, that I will never fall away from God, from faith in Him, from pursuing Him, from pursuing a righteous and holy life.
As a ballet dancer, as a ballet teacher, as an artist, I have had to pursue and stick to and practice, train, and be intentional about pursuing whatever it is I’m focusing on. Whether its 16 fouettes on pointe, or developing my eye with drawing over and over and consistently nearly every day, I need to be diligent. As a ballet dancer, I have fallen off – pirouettes, off my fouettes. As an artist, I have messed up and thrown away mistakes, but it was all training. Even the mess ups. Even the falls. So yes I am going to fall, probably every day. But the more I train in a certain area, the more I will learn the pitfalls, the errors, the what to watch out for. The more I will train myself to know what is right, because I will recognize, know what is wrong. What didn’t work. So don’t be afraid of falling!
To train myself, over and over, through the Holy Spirit living in me, consistently helping me and pulling me towards His purposes. To dilligently and with serious effort, practice these qualities. It is choosing the way of the Spirit of God, in that moment, over the way of the flesh.
And by so doing, I live in true life, escaping from sin and my old ways. The more I practice, give due diligence to, choose the life giving ways of the spirit over the death inducing ways of sin, the more I grow and INCREASE in these things.
The more I am effective and fruitful, as in verse 8 it says-
“For if these qualities are yours and are INCREASING, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There needs to be a growing, an increasing, in these qualities.
I can look back, and see where I have grown in some of these areas. One of the things I pursued for a long time was peace, peace within myself, with God, and with others, no matter the circumstances. I think I really put my mind to that, and developed that, over a very intentional year. It was obviously a big thing to me, it pained me to not have it, and so I pursued it. But, it wasn’t something I just picked out of a list of things I should be practicing. No, God put his finger onthat thing in my life, and the Holy Spirit led me, taught me, and enabled me to do this. As I leant on Him, as I trusted Him, as I prayed earnestly and sought this for my life, for my family. God has done amazing work. And I found His peace. I live in His peace now, at times I can fall back into anxiety, but I can quite easily steer out of it, because of that year of training, intentionally seeking, pursuing and finding His peace. My mind has been trained to recognize the dangers, to turn to the One who is the giver of peace.
For a recent issue He is putting His finger on, is in the area of self control. Again, not picking from a list of must do’s and must have’s, but out of personal conviction, out of spending time with Him, and feeling that pull of His, in this direction.
“Don’t just watch endless series,” He has been saying. “Be careful and choosy about what you do watch, even more so than you have been. What is this doing to you, to your mind? What is your mind full of ? Are you thinking about what is good and noble and true? How does this affect your heart and soul? Is this ultimately good for you and bringing you life, or death?”
Also, and along the same lines, of economy of time.
“Is this day Mine, or yours? You have an agenda, ask Me what My agenda is, give your time to Me.”
It’s much more of an adventure that way, there is even more joy, and I have a sense of being productive for the Kingdom. Even if that productivity means just spending time with Jesus. I know that I really, with my whole heart and mind and strength, want more of Jesus, more intimate knowledge of who HE is, more of knowing Him. I want to be effective and fruitful, in knowing Him.
And then, the rewards are life. More life. More capacity for joy.
Then I read…
In verse 11, this is quite the kicker,
“For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
So then the question is, if we are NOT doing this, if we are NOT increasing, or
beingeffective, in the knowledge of Jesus, and bearing fruit. If we are NOT growing, will there NOT be a way into the kingdom of God? Will there NOT be a way provided, if he says that if we DO this, there WILL be a way richly provided?
This then could lead into a debate about works versus faith and once saved always saved etc.
Which I don’t feel the need to go deeply into, as I am no theologian. But what I dounderstand is this; that we have been saved (past) when we repent and receive Jesus; we are being saved (present) every day as we work out our salvation; and we will be saved (future) one day in eternity.
But, if we are not increasing in the knowledge of God, if we are not bearing fruit, growing and allowing God to challenge and change us, were we even saved in the first place? Because if we are really saved, we will desire this. We will know God, and His desires. We will have an ongoing relationship with God where we will allow him to change us. And we will grow and increase in godliness and holiness. Because, as it is written somewhere “ we are changed from glory to glory by beholding His presence.”
How do I practice this?
By being obedient, one moment at a time. By choosing His will, over my own. Maybe not every time, but more and more. Until choosing Him becomes the default, becomes easier to do.
That means do it, then do it again, then do it again.
God does not expect me to do this on my own. It is impossible on my own. But He has given me a helper, Himself, the Holy Spirit, living in me. He has given meeverything I need to live a godly life. I carefully and with serious effort, train myself, or more truthfully, allow Him to train me, to choose His way, over the way that I have been saved from, the way that I have escaped from.
I like that. He is the trainer, my coach, my mentor, and advisor. He is the one in charge. He has a unique training plan worked out just for me. He knows the areas of strength, the areas of weakness. He decides what we are working on.
And I, like an athlete, ballerina, artist, who wants to learn from the best, eagerly follow His guidelines and his training schedule.
I am so glad it’s not all on me and I don’t have to figure it all out. I just have to co-operate with Him, and be diligent.
Practicing is hard work, especially in the beginning. It is repetitive, we stumble along the way, we get frustrated, we get bored. But somewhere along the way, we find our stride.
When patience overcomes frustration,
when peace replaces anxiety,
when trust replaces fear,
when joy replaces fleeting happiness,
when a spirit led response replaces a retaliation in the flesh,
when others blossom under your love, the love from God;
That is life, blessing. And a rich reward to be treasured.
Along the way, we develop even more intimacy with God, and that is our highest treasure.
When the discipline required to spend time with God and in His word, which at first is hard and dry and even frustrating, becomes instead the wellspring of life.
When what was hard at first becomes the desire to rush into His presence and sit at his feet and soak in his love and grow in intimacy with him.
When the practicing of putting God first and seeking His kingdom first, becomes not a matter of discipline but of desire and becomes as natural as breathing.
When at first we put aside an hour or so a day to spend in his presence, becomes a
desire to spend the whole day abiding in him and staying close and wanting his presence in everything. That is the reward!
It does take serious effort. But everything that is worth something does take serious effort.
And the things that were so difficult a while ago, become easier and fluid. And new challenges and deeper growth is required.
It will always be an unending journey. At times, pleasant;
walks along rivers and meandering paths, and at other times, steep and lonely mountain paths.
But the view!
And the air up there.
When Jesus is your one desire.
Through it all, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. I love His patience, am humbled by His patience, and his wisdom. In how He can lead each one of us so personally. How he knows us so well, and no matter the state we are in, how unfit we are, how out of shape we find ourselves…
He has a plan. Yes , He is much more than just our coach, our trainer, He is also the lover of our souls, and as such, desires to see us move forward into more and more freedom, holiness, and falling so much more in love with Him.
Oh how he loves us. He requires more from us, always, because he knows more will lead us to more of Him. And more of Him will leak out into our daily lives and touch the lives of those around us. At the same time setting us free from the sins that used to bind us.
I don’t know where I am on Your training schedule Holy Spirit, or what You have planned, but I trust You. I am ready at the starting line, leaning forward , my hands in the chalk dust, my feet poised for take-off, my focus on the race ahead. Whether that be a race of hurdles, or a marathon, or a short hard sprint, my ears are attuned to Your voice.