A man in China was delighted to get two puppies from a local farmer. Several months later, however, the puppies were exhibiting unusual behavior. They killed and ate his pet chickens. They had an insatiable appetite. And they were huge—each weighed over 100 pounds. But not until the man saw a pamphlet on endangered animals did he realize that his beloved dogs weren’t dogs at all: they were Asian black bears.
Behavior and growth often confirm identity. Puppies grow into dogs; if they don’t look like dogs or act like dogs, then they probably aren’t dogs at all. In the same way, we expect those who identify with Jesus Christ and “participate in the divine nature” to grow more like Him.
The qualities listed in verses 5 through 7 remind us of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23). Here, the exhortation is to “make every effort,” a phrase repeated twice (vv. 5, 10). This passage is not saying that our effort brings about our salvation. Rather, these pursuits should claim our attention. And as we saw in our reading yesterday, it is through God’s power and promises that we are able to live this way at all. Our daily concern should be to participate in the work that the Spirit is doing within us to make our identity as the children of God clearly evident to all (v. 10).
Finally, Peter includes another reference to the spiritual abundance that contrasts with the evil desires. These qualities, self-control and godliness and love, grow in our lives “in increasing measure,” a phrase that connotes a lavish outpouring and overflowing of goodness (v. 8). We can experience these blessings now, while we wait for our “rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 11).
Apply the Word
Reflect on your life as a Christian, and consider how you’ve grown spiritually in these qualities. Do you see evidence of more self-control and perseverance? Do you have more love for God and others? Ask the Holy Spirit to convict and encourage you as you rejoice in His work in your life and continue to “make every effort” to be more like Jesus.