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 1:9)
I’ve been writing on some verses in 2 Peter for a few days. In particular, these verses:
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. 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 (2 Peter 1:5-8)
But what happens if we DON’T possess these qualities? How does that make us nearsighted and blind???
First of all – we cannot obtain these qualities without seeking the Lord. So if we don’t possess them, we simply have been seeking our own way. We’ve forgotten that we are saved. I am going to list for you some areas where that applies to my life – you can probably come up with your own list….
- Sexual sin. I was divorced before I was saved. I lived my life much like others, and in a way that is considered “normal” in America today. Divorced. Sleeping around (I wasn’t, I was with one woman. But I was sleeping with her while being unmarried). Lusting after other women. Looking at porn. On and on. When I was saved, this was a struggle to avoid – much of it still is. Granted, now I’m married, so I’m not “sleeping around”. But I struggle with sexual purity, just as most men do. How do I handle it? Historically, not well. I would allow temptation to overcome me. I would sin. I would feel guilt or shame. I would “repent”. I would be forgiven. I would repeat the cycle……
- Greed. I spent money as if it were going out of style, before I was saved. That behavior continued for a while even after. And by the time the Lord changed my habits, I was in a hole so deep I could barely see daylight. Thankfully, I can see daylight now. 🙂 But I’m still digging out.
- Laziness. Man, it’s more fun to sit around and do nothing than do those things called work! Work was designed by God, and it is GOOD. But I bought into the whole “workin’ for the weekend” mentality, and everything named work was (and is) a burden to me. This is still a struggle, and my attitude sometimes reveals this to others I work with…. Sorry, wonderful co-workers….. And sorry wonderful wife…. By the way, this is a struggle for me, in teaching my kids the value of hard work, when I myself struggle with this…..
- Gossip. I love a good gossip! Really, I don’t like it. But I get sucked in. There have even been recent events that have happened in my personal and professional lives – none of which involves me, but all of which intrigues me. Why??? Why do I care??? I mean – I CARE about those people in my life. But I think I care about these events because there is drama. Gossip. Blech. Yet, like a car accident we don’t want to see – we turn to look anyway….
- Self-righteouness. I’ve been guilty of this, if even in my heart. Still am from time to time. I know the truth, that I’m no better than you. But if you don’t do this right, or if you don’t believe this or that, I can sometimes feel like “why don’t they get it???”
- Slander. I don’t do this one. Oh wait – ever been in a disagreement with someone, and had to share with another about it? Did you give all the facts, or did you maybe spin it even just a little, to try and sway them to your way of thinking? I’ve done that….
Every time I do one of these things, or don’t do what I’m called to do, I’m rendering myself ineffective. Sure, God can use me for his kingdom. But as long as I’m focused on me, he won’t use me like he wants to. It has to be about him, and not me. And every one of the things I listed above show that it’s still about me. It’s all about me!
He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30)
John the baptist said it right there. I must become less. I must stop putting myself before others, and before God. I must put Jesus before all. If I’m not, I’m really putting myself before all. Sexual sin? Pleasing self. Greed? Self gratification. Laziness? Selfishness (“A little sleep, a little slumber”….) Gossip? Self-righteousness? Self-elevation. Slander? Self-justification. All about self. HE must become more, I must become less…..
So – how does this make me nearsighted and blind, or render me ineffective? Well – my prayer life can suck from time to time. “I’ll pray for you”. But if I’m not pressing in to God, instead turning to my own desires, I’m probably not praying for you very much. Sure, God doesn’t need me to pray. Sure he’ll take care of you. But “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. Probably because a righteous man, being rigtheous only because of Christ, is PRAYING. Those who live unrighteous lives – Christians included – most likely aren’t praying (I’m not counting the prayer to “get out of this bind”. I’m talking real prayer). I’ve been in this camp, more than once….
When my prayer life sucks – I’m not walking in the Spirit. If I’m not walking in the Spirit, that leaves me walking in my flesh. I’m bound to fail, when I do that. Those things listed above? If I’m not abiding in Christ, I will abide in myself. Plain and simple. When Jesus says “You can’t server two masters”, talking about God and money, you could certainly replace “money” with “self”. I have, more than once….
And when I’m not praying for others, I’m letting them down. I’m missing out on opportunites for God to use me in their lives. I’m missing out on opportunites to put them before me and my desires, and to serve them and their needs. I’ve probably let anyone reading this down at one point or another, by neglecting to pray for you first….
With regards to “I’ll pray for you” – I’m not suggesting that is the answer, and certainly not one many in dire need would want to hear. Especially those who don’t believe in God. But – if I’m not praying for you, I probably won’t help you then either. This is not to suggest those who don’t believe in God never help others. But if you see how self-serving I am by reading my description of self, you see that I probably won’t help you without God prodding me. “I’ll pray for you”, in those moments is sort of like saying “Better you than me”. I’ve been there and done that, more than once….
Thank you Lord, that I can turn to you – even when I’ve turned away so many times! I praise you, that your amrs are always open. I thank you that I am forgiven. I thank you that NONE of this can be done of myself – I need you. You put this desire in me to turn from my selfish ways, and turn to you. Help me to do so. Apart from you I can do nothing. But with you, all things are possible! Thank you that because of you, I can put others before myself. I can love others as you love me. I can make a difference in someone else’s life, because you would use someone like me, even in the little things. Thank you Jesus! Amen!
The verse about the prayer of a righteous man goes like this (from James 5):
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.