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)
Adding the graces of God to faith builds an impenetrable fortress of spiritual resilience for the child of God. Every part of the battle with sin is defeated with the resources of virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and brotherly kindness. Not least in any endeavor of righteousness is the need for love. This single trait is the bond of perfection upon which every particle of the Christian spirit is fused together. Paul summed up the immense value of love when he told the Corinthians that anything without love is useless, vain and empty. The graces outlined by Peter must have love for them to have power. Adding love to faith heightens the strength of courage. Knowledge is of no value if love is not present. One of underlying influences of self-control is love. Keeping on and never giving up comes from a heart of love. Godliness shines brighter when love is behind it. Brotherly kindness is a cousin to love and can’t live without it.
Adding love is a deeply emotional feeling of what God has done. How do you define love? God so loved the world He gave His only Begotten Son. Love is defined more by the act than the word. The Father told all men He loved them but until His Son was sacrificed the meaning was empty. Jesus loved His Father and expressed that love in obedience. As followers of Jesus Christ and children of the Father the Christian must find that love in the graces that will make his calling and election sure. Faith must be built upon a love for God and desire to please Him. Nothing comes in the way of serving the Father. All the motives and feelings are driven by a need to show the Lord how we love Him. Knowledge comes from a hungry heart. Growing in the grace of the Lord is having a deep feeling of love to know all that is possible about the Father. Faith comes from hearing and that experience is filled with a daily thirst for more of that knowledge. Love is the engine that drives those feelings.
Self-control is very difficult in a world filled with a lack of control. Faced with a decision to yield to the lust of the flesh how can one exercise restraint? The more we are in love with God the more we desire to please Him and the stronger our faith to resist temptation. A greater love will give us greater self-control. Loving the Lord so much will cause us to stop and consider what our action will do. Adding perseverance to self-control comes from a heart that loves the Father with complete trust. It is hard to see the end result sometimes when the hard days come and the nights grow darker. Many will lose their faith and give up because they lack the love to continue. Holding on longer as the storms of life batter the soul will come from a deep love for the providence of God. Trusting the Lord is an expression of love.
How can godliness be a part of the Christian life without love? Having a heart like the Father can only come from love. Godliness is seeking to measure our image after the image of the Father and Son and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Everything about this is summed up with love. Filling our minds with the love of God will guide our decisions with righteousness, truth and holiness. Brotherly-kindness is impossible without love. Adding love to brotherly-kindness will complete the picture of the child of God. Loving others comes first from loving God. The graces listed by Peter can be seen in a pattern of growth beginning with faith and ending with love. However, if love is not the beginning none of the graces can be realized. Beginning with love and working through each grace will enable each character of the Christian model to be stronger. Love is the key. To love the Father immeasurably will find itself in every other quality. Defining love will become a matter of how it is shown in the heart of the child of God towards the Father, the brotherhood and the world. Let your light shine bright in a world of darkness and let that beacon of light be love.