November 26, 1996
Before Kathy moved into her new, three-bedroom split level house, she painted the walls, added a few accent colors and hung wallpaper in two rooms. After she moved her furniture in place, she added paintings, wall hangings, mirrors and other ornaments. She put some plants on a few sunny window ledges and added curtains and swag valences. She arranged art objects on some of the furniture. Before she decorated, the house was nice but seemed empty. After a few careful additions, she transformed it into an inviting, comfortable home.
Few things are so good that they cannot be made better. When the Model T was built, people were amazed, yet it was not long before someone designed a Model A. In May, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile yet in 46 days, someone else beat his record. In spite of its enormous size, the first computer seemed quick. Today, computers are much faster even though some fit inside a shoe box lid.
In the spiritual realm, the “good thing” is faith. The Bible says faith is necessary for forgiveness and eternal life, because “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” However, as good and as necessary as faith is, it is enhanced by some additions. Peter outlines a few: “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.”
According to the Bible, goodness does not earn God’s favor but no one can claim to have faith without good deeds. As James says, “faith without works is dead.” If we genuinely trust Jesus Christ, we will change the way we live.
Faith is not ignorance but based on the knowledge of God. However, after we come into a faith-relationship with Him, we soon discover we cannot know enough about Him. It is as if faith becomes hungry to know, and unless we add knowledge, our faith can shrivel and die.
Faith also produces an inner control over personal, selfish I-wants. Far from binding us, self-control is a welcome addition. It sets us free from the tyranny of always needing to have our own way. Besides, without this addition, our “faith” is not real.
Perseverance is another necessary addition. As our faith is challenged, increased knowledge may give it a boost, but it is perseverance that keeps faith strong and growing. We must add it just as we must add godliness.
Godliness goes beyond goodness. It means growing to be more like Him so we think His thoughts, talk as He would talk, and make decisions that are in harmony with His will. Godliness is impossible without faith yet faith is not real without godliness. People of faith are God-like.
Another mark of legitimate faith is a love for other Christians. John says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” In our own ability, we might not have the capacity to love some but with Christ living in our hearts and controlling our lives, we can count on Him to supply His love. If it is not there, perhaps He is not there either.
Faith also means loving people who are outside of the family of God. If we add this powerful love, we find our faith is made truly complete. It is the crowning, Christlike touch.
If a person is saved from sin and receives eternal life “by grace through faith, not deeds,” then why do we need to add all these increased virtues? Peter explains in his next verse: “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.”
If nothing else, sitting on our faith renders us useless. If we want to draw others to God from an ungodly world, they must see our faith in our life. To show it, we must make some additions.