Is your faith strong? No matter how strong it is, we can further fortify our faith. But how?
If you could sit down with someone mighty in faith like the Apostle Peter, he could give you powerful practical, personal instruction on how to grow in this godly quality.
You actually have something remarkably close to that opportunity. The chief apostle of the first century wrote a passage in his second epistle that is effectively a stir-to-action, step-by-step how-to on becoming strong in faith!
What is so immediately striking about 2 Peter 1:5-7 is that it is so active. “[G]iving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”
The chief apostle tells you to give diligence—urgency—to this endeavor. Actively add to your faith. Faith comes from God. You have faith, Peter says. But you must take definite, disciplined steps to nourish it, supply it, build it. It cannot thrive in your life unless you labor for it. But as you do, God supplies more, and it grows in your life.
Faith without works is dead: We show our faith by our works (James 2:17-18). Those with faith must “be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8). Here, then, Peter lists seven “works” by which you can demonstrate your faith, and through which you can add to your faith.
Add to your faith virtue. This is excellence, morally and spiritually. Its presence or absence manifests itself in the tiniest areas of life: reliability, fairness, honesty, compassion, generosity, modesty, purity and so on. Actively seek to demonstrate these praiseworthy qualities. This expresses and proves your faith, and simultaneously reinforces and strengthens it.
Add to that virtue knowledge—knowledge of God’s will. In many ways, faith is founded on knowledge. It requires knowing God’s will and being sensitive to it. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Add continually to your knowledge of God’s will through Bible study, counsel and meditation. Believe it, and your faith will grow all the more.
Add to that knowledge temperance. This means application and follow-through. Once you have the knowledge, it is worthless unless you exercise the self-mastery to live by it, to do what you know you should. Draw close to God and use His Spirit, of which temperance is a fruit (Galatians 5:23). Practice doing God’s will over doing what comes naturally. This is a vital building block of faith. Your faith will always be deficient without temperance, because failure to temper and restrain your carnality and lusts will undermine God’s indwelling presence in you. But exercising temperance builds faith.
Add to your temperance patience. When you do right, good results won’t always follow immediately. Patience is an indispensable ingredient of faith. Our assurance of God’s promises must not waver, even amid physical evidence to the contrary. You must actively add patience, or your temperance will weaken in difficult times. Patience is what preserves your steadfastness in trial. The lack of immediate answers does not knock you off course. And understand that God does try our faith to build our patience (James 1:3).
Add to your patience godliness—reverence and respect toward God. Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines this as “that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well pleasing to Him.” Adding this God-centered, reverent attitude to our patience further augments our faith. Know in your heart that God is the perfect authority, unimpeachable, worthy of unwavering respect. We must obey and worship our Master, come what may.
Add to your godliness philadelphia—brotherly love. Our reverence for God flows out into our relationships with others. Express your faith in effectual, fervent prayer for those in need (James 5:16). In true Christian fellowship, share examples of answered prayer and God’s intervention you have heard and have experienced yourself (e.g. Psalm 145:1-7). Give, serve, love your spiritual family (Romans 12:9-10, 13, 15-16). You can bolster others’ faith, and they can bolster yours.
And add to that agape—God’s love. The ultimate goal of all your efforts is to become love as God is love. It took faith for Jesus Christ, “the author and finisher of our faith,” to carry out the ultimate act of love: enduring the stake and sacrificing His life for mankind (Hebrews 12:2). His love for His Father made Him “obedient unto death” (Philippians 2:8). Show your faith and build your love by always doing your Father’s business, in your personal life and in support of His Work.
The life of faith is a life of progression, of growth. As faith grows, so does the evidence of that faith in the form of works. This list from the Apostle Peter shows those works of faith and reveals how actively performing them will also grow your faith.
Look at the conclusion to Peter’s inspired instruction in 2 Peter 1:8-11: If you do these things, he promises, not only will you grow in faith and bear rich spiritual fruit, but “ye shall never fall”—you will attain “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”!