Have You Forgotten?
It’s been over 11 years since the Twin Towers fell. Yet most of us can vividly remember where we were that September morning when we first witnessed that traumatic footage. For months our news agencies gave updates on the attack, as America mourned. American pride flourished. In fact, the sales of American flags skyrocketed by over 70% in those first few months. After a while, many determined that America should just move on and try to forget that day that shocked the world. This mentality inspired country music singer Darryl Worley to pen the hit song “Have You Forgotten?” His point was that remembering our past is the only way to maintain our identity and purpose in a confusing world.
We find the same phenomenon occurs with Christians. When they first obey the Gospel they’re on fire for God, and want to shout it from the rooftops. However, the farther removed we are from our baptism, it’s easy to sink into a rut and lose that desire to continue to grow. Peter addresses this very issue in the first chapter of 2 Peter. After reminding Christians how God rescued them, Peter gives us the first of only 7 commands in the entire letter in 2 Peter 1:5-7. As Christians God commands us to “supply” the following 8 qualities in our lives:
(1) Faith: we must trust God in order to see the “un-seeable” in this life
(2) Moral Excellence: behavior that is exceptionally, morally good
(3) Knowledge: this is knowledge of God gained through faithful living
(4) Self-Control: ability to restrain our fleshly impulses
(5) Perseverance: endurance to “bear up” under difficult times
(6) Godliness: the ability to see what God wants from us and how we need to apply it
(7) Brotherly Kindness: affection and kind treatment of our brethren
(8) Love: that self-sacrificing love that moves beyond any emotion
Who is responsible for supplying these qualities in our lives? Is it the preacher’s fault if we’re not growing in these areas? What about the elders? Perhaps it’s the congregation’s fault for not having a ministry that “fits my needs.” Notice what Peter says, “For if these qualities are yours AND are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (2 Peter 1:8 emph. added). Is your faith stronger now than it was 6 months ago? If not, then the only person to blame is you. Peter says that this person has “forgotten his purification from his former sins” (1:9). Essentially he’s saying, “God saved you! Have you totally forgotten that? Doesn’t that give you a jump start spiritually?”
If you’re not growing in these areas then you have made yourself “useless” and “unfruitful.” But how would you be useless in your knowledge of Christ? Peter answers this question in verses 10-11. The need for us to continually grow in these areas is so that (1) “you will never stumble” and (2) so that God will continue to supply to us the entrance into His eternal kingdom. Notice how the word “supply” connects us back to verse 5. If WE continue to “supply” these qualities in our relationship with God, then HE will continue to “supply” us salvation.
Peter here shows us that our knowledge of Jesus Christ can become “useless” and “unfruitful” if we don’t put that knowledge into action. By reflecting on the fact that each of us were doomed to spend an eternity in hell before God offered us salvation in Christ we can stimulate ourselves to press forward in maturity of our faith.
Are these qualities yours and increasing in your life? Or…have you forgotten what He did for you?