Musicians go through rehearsals. Athletes have training camps. Students take mock tests to see how much they’ve learned. While each of these activities are very different, they all involve the same thing: practice.
While people may not always enjoy practicing, a good student, athlete or musician knows that it’s still important. You see, the best way to get better at doing something usually involves practicing so you’ll be able to perform at your best during a game, test, or performance. Regular practice can help you “stay sharp” and really improve as a player, student or musician and people who don’t like to practice usually don’t get much better at what they do.
This idea of “practice makes perfect” also holds true for your spiritual life as well. A good illustration of this can be seen in the Bible’s book of 2nd Peter, a book that’s found right near the end of the New Testament. This short letter (written by the Apostle Peter) goes over some important spiritual “basics” that are sure to help you grow, improve and stay sharp as a Christian. Here’s an example…
“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
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” (2 Peter 1:1-4 NIV).
What do you need in your life right now? Perhaps you could use some wisdom to know how to handle a difficult situation. Maybe your finances are low or you’re not feeling well physically. Perhaps you need some direction for your life or help in overcoming a bad habit.
Well whatever your need may be, 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God is able to supply “…everything we need for life and godliness…” God is able to deliver an endless, limitless and inexhaustible supply of anything that you may need to live the kind of life that honors Him. Remember that God knows what you need before you even ask Him (Matthew 6:8) and Philippians 4:19 tells us that “…God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
“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” (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV).
The word “faith” used above refers to your trust and belief in Jesus and the God-honoring lifestyle that comes from acting on that belief. This trust is the foundation of a relationship with God through Jesus and it serves as the basis for everything else in your life (see Hebrews 11:6). Once this foundation is in place (1 Corinthians 3:11), you can start to build up your spiritual life just like a builder would construct a home upon a foundation.
In fact, Peter even tells you what kind of “construction materials” to use in building up your relationship with God…
Goodness This word means living and acting towards others in a pure, honorable way.
Knowledge This refers to an awareness of what the Bible says and means so you can apply it and communicate it to others.
Self-control Self-control is the ability to be in charge of your passions and desires instead of having them be in charge of you!
Perseverance is the ability to keep on following God no matter what the outward circumstances may be.
Godliness is another way of referring to God-honoring character.
Brotherly kindness speaks of the appreciation and affection that Christians in the church have towards each other.
Love You can’t go wrong with the definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “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” (NIV).
Now it may be easy for someone to look at this list and immediately focus on those areas where they are falling short. While it’s good to be honest about those areas where we need improvement, the emphasis here is really on developing and moving forward as a Christian.
You see, a person who is living an authentic Christian life is not someone who doesn’t make mistakes but someone who is always learning, improving, growing and building on their relationship with Jesus. The real question is “Am I making progress in my spiritual life? Is my life more God-honoring than it was last week or last month or last year?” In fact, Peter talks a little more about this in the 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. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” (2 Peter 1:8-9 NIV).
If you are learning, growing and improving in these areas then you’ll never have to worry about living the kind of life that doesn’t count for much. But while it’s always good to learn, grow and improve, it’s also necessary– you have to do it. You see, God is always moving forward and there are new opportunities to learn and be used by God every day. Unfortunately, the person who isn’t moving forward in their relationship with Jesus is nearsighted and blind -and may get left standing still as God moves forward.
Think of it like this- which person is likely to have the best opportunities to do something great for God? Will it be the person who is steadily growing in Godliness or the person who is still in the same spiritual state that they were in last year? Obviously, the answer is the person who is steadily growing.
You see, if you are constantly learning and growing and building on your spiritual life, then God may give you bigger and better jobs and greater opportunities to do those things that will really count for eternity. In fact, Jesus Himself says much the same thing in Matthew 13:12…
“Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (NIV).
So keep on “practicing” -ask God to help you to keep on learning and growing and improving in your Christian life. If you do, then 2 Peter 1:11 says, “…you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (NIV).