Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-11)
Developing A Spirit To Endure
Running a race requires the will to carry through the inevitable pain and suffering to the end. There is a need to have the staying power of pushing ahead mile after mile overcoming each obstacle with a resolve to finish the race. Those who run in marathons spend years developing their bodies to endure the punishing abuse the body will take during the long hours and difficult course. For most it is not about winning the race. Victory comes in crossing the finish line. The beginning of the marathon is where there is a lot of hope and energy as people rush forward excited about the race. In time, some begin to slow down as the energy diminishes but they carry on. As the hours pass, the line of runners stretches out further from one another as some fall back and some drop out. The champion is crowned who crossed the line first but the greater victors are those who kept moving forward step after painful step and in the fading darkness of the day stretch forth and crossed the finish line. They persevered and won the victory. It was not about the crown for the swift but the reward of finishing.
The Christian race is little different than running a marathon. Those who have begun the race have put on Christ in obedience to His word and enjoy the spiritual blessings of the Father. There is a lot of excitement and hope as the new born child bursts forth in life running with the joy of salvation. Hope fills the heart with the grace of God. Energy is high. Time begins to wear on the life of the Christian and the soul begins to face the pounding of daily living. Facing the onslaught of the hosts of wickedness, faith is put to the test. The lessons of virtue, knowledge and self-control begin to strain under the weight of temptation and spiritual fatigue. Peter shows that with all of these great examples of character so vital to the growth of the Christian, perseverance is the key ingredient that keeps the focus of the race before the mind of the child of God to keep pressing forward.
Adding perseverance to self-control (including virtue and knowledge) is the vitamin of a heroic, brave patience that bears up under any trial. The word means something like “remaining under” and contending daily without stopping. Knowledge will have little use if there is not a willingness to submit to the divine will of God and endure the trials of life with courage. Perseverance is the moral discipline to put one foot in front of the other without looking to the left or right but keeping the eyes clearly set on eternal life. It involves the trials of life and the strain of running a long race. For the Christian, there is no question where each day will take them. Satan seeks to discourage and if he is successful will cause the Christian to stop running. For those who have run the race, they know the pain involved and the temptation to give up. Faith does not allow them to quit but to fight through the pain and keep running. Steadfastness is necessary to run the Christian race. It requires a resolute mind, committed and dedicated to serving the Lord. Paul reminds us running this race is not about the swift but about those who finish. Keep on running. Never, never give up. Heaven awaits.