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Read 2 Peter 1:1-11

When we know God, we have all the knowledge we need to live a godly life. We can turn away from the world’s corruption by focusing on His promises, and be able to “participate in the divine nature” — to reflect Christ from the inside out.

Like all worthwhile outcomes, this takes effort. We start with faith – real and continuous confidence in God, His unchanging nature and rock-solid assurances. Sustaining and building on that faith adds goodness — the desire to become more like Jesus in character and action.

As we continue to work on these aspects, we find our knowledge expanding: knowledge of God, of life, of our own strengths and weaknesses, our vulnerable places most likely to trigger sin in us. That knowledge allows us to exert self-control, depending always on God to help us. We no longer just give in to our impulses, excusing them as “just part of who I am.” We no longer want to be “who I am,” but “who I can be under God through the Holy Spirit.”

The continued exercise of self-control builds our perseverance muscles, giving us the strength to keep going when the going is toughest. That’s what leads to godliness: absolute trust, absolute dependence, absolute certainty in the face of the worst the world can —  and does — throw at us.

It takes godliness to care about all our brothers and sisters, because they’re just as imperfect as we are, and some of them seem determined to demonstrate it in the most unpleasant ways possible. Just being around them is a test of how far we’ve come — or not. When we reach the point that we look beyond irritation and see invitation, past retaliation to reconciliation, from the desire to escape to the reaching to embrace — then, then we’ll have experienced a glimmer of God’s love for us, and know we’re getting somewhere.

But we’ll always have to keep working at all this, and doing it with intention if we’re to use what we know and will learn of God through the example of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, in ways that are effective and productive. Otherwise, we’ll become more and more myopic until we eventually lose sight of Him altogether.

Let’s never forget that there’s no such thing as an effortless faith. James tells us that faith without works is dead; so is faith without work. It’s that hunger to know more of Jesus and to be more like Jesus that confirms how real our faith is. A faith that has never been explored, mined, brought to the surface for all to see, and polished until it shines — well, that’s a faith not worth having.

The faith that digs deep for all the treasures of knowledge, the gems of revelation — that faith generates the spiritual riches that make our walk secure as we look forward to the welcoming arms of Jesus in our eternal home.