Yes I absolutely gave a catchy and controversial title. It’s also Voting Day in America!
Often times my topics for a blog post are a product of recurring conversations. It is always amazing to me how the same conversation can be shared with multiple friends or groups of people. I realize that in those moments it is God revealing more of His truth or His character to me. Here’s my latest revelation…
Change of behavior does not equate a heart change. In the realm of discipleship, we have deceived ourselves into thinking these are the same thing. They are not. For example, on the way to work every morning I yell at the bus in front of me that slows down my trip. I honk the horn, yell profanities, and become agitated. One day my boss changes my schedule and I no longer drive behind the bus. So I stop honking the horn, yelling profanities, and becoming agitated. I had a change of behavior.
Let’s keep the same scenario except my boss doesn’t change my schedule. I continue to get behind the bus every morning. However, I have a realization that honking, yelling, and becoming agitated accomplish nothing and in fact are a terrible representation of myself and Christ. Therefore, I decide to stop the behavior and pray about how to improve my thinking and responses to similar situations. I ask friends to help me with my issues. I possibly even apologize to the school bus driver for being disruptive in the traffic flow.
I know all of this seems a little over the top, but I think you can understand the point I am making. The first scenario did not reach the heart of the matter. My circumstances changed resulting in behavior changes. Nothing in my heart was dealt with. Why did I exhibit these behaviors to begin with? Do I think these behaviors are appropriate? Does my behavior affect people around me? Does my behavior affect my relationship with God? Those are all questions that lead to a heart change.
I am reminded of Peter’s teachings in 2 Peter 1:3-11 (emphasis added)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What a powerful teaching. P O W E R F U L! We are to supplement our faith. Think about this: a great majority of us receive minerals, vitamins, and nutrients from the food we eat. However, we consume additional supplements to ensure that we have maximized all of the good things (minerals & vitamins). By definition supplements “complete or enhance something else when added to it.” They complete or enhance the nutrients in our food. Peter is letting us know that there are several things that complete or enhance our faith:
- brotherly affection
In adding these seven attributes to our faith, Peter makes a bold statement by saying, “if you practice these qualities you will never fall”. HELLO!!!! Do I want a change of behavior or a change of heart? Do I want to fall? Do I want an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I am pretty sure that we all answered the same way. We must be diligent in supplementing our faith with virtue (moral excellence – mimic Jesus), knowledge (fear of the Lord – Proverbs 1:7), self-control, steadfastness (endurance despite circumstances), godliness (devotion to God and holiness – 1 Peter 1:16), brotherly affection (phileo love), and love (agape love). It only seems appropriate that seven qualities would complete your faith. Seven is the biblical number of completeness or perfection. Jesus was the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).
My dear friend recently divulged an issue he was having. It was a recurring problem that he just couldn’t seem to gain victory over. After studying the text of 2 Peter, he had a light-bulb moment: “I need to supplement my faith. I need to be found to possess virtue. I no longer want to be just an average believer. I want to be effective and fruitful in the kingdom.” For him, 2 Peter led to a change of heart, not just behavior. The truth of the matter is, unless we deal with the heart, behavioral change won’t address the sin that enslaves us.
I pray that 2 Peter encourages you the way it has encouraged my friend and I. It forces me to ask myself hard questions. Are there things in my life that need a change of heart? Are their sinful patterns that keep showing up? Am I virtuous? Do I have knowledge? Self-control? Not only do these seven supplements complete my faith, they lead to the ultimate change of heart, and that is Jesus’ desire for me.