This morning I was the guest speaker for the chapel service at Highland Rim Academy, a classical Christian school here in Cookeville, TN. I was asked to present a ten-minute devotional for kids from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Here is the message I gave (or at least something very much like it), along with some of the answers that the students gave at moments when I asked them questions
This morning I’m going to share one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I like it so much because it helps me learn how to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus.
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. (2 Peter 1:3-8 ESV)
Now, we’re going to spend most of our time on the list of things Peter tells us we should do in verses 5-7, but first I want to look at why we are to do those things, and how we can do them.
In verse 3, Peter writes that God’s divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. In other words, everything that we need to become like Jesus comes from God. We can’t do anything on our own! He also tells us that we get these things through the knowledge of him. Where do we learn about God?
[Students gave lots of great answers - Bible, Holy Spirit, Nature/Science, Church, Mom & Dad]
In verse 4, Peter goes on to tell us that as a result of these promises that God gives us, we “become partakers of the divine nature”. Basically, that just means that God makes us more like himself. And because we are partakers of the divine nature, Peter says we have escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. Do you know what that means? It means WE DON’T HAVE TO SIN! None of us is totally like Jesus yet, so we all still screw up and sin, but if you’re a Christian, God has PROMISED to help you not sin!
So, that’s why Peter gives us this list that starts in verse 5. Even though everything in this list is something that only God can give us, we still have to make every effort to follow Jesus. God is totally in control of everything that happens in the world, but that doesn’t mean we’re like puppets on a string. We still have to work hard to try to be like Jesus!
First of all, Peter says that being like Jesus starts with faith. The Bible says that we are saved by God’s grace alone, through our faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. So when God shows us his grace and saves us, he gives us faith. That’s all you need to be totally saved and go to Heaven, which is why if somebody believes in Jesus right before he dies – like the thief on the cross – he will still be with Jesus in Heaven. But most of us go on living for a very long time after we become a Christian, and the Bible tells us that those who are Christians will gradually become more like Christ because we have the Holy Spirit living in us. Here’s what that looks like:
Peter says to supplement your faith with virtue. “Supplement” just means that we are adding to something. So what’s virtue? [One of the older students answered "moral obedience to God"]
Right, it means doing things that please God. Where do we learn what pleases God? From all the places you listed before! From your parents, your pastor, your teachers, and, most of all, the BIBLE! That’s why the next thing Peter tells us is to supplement your virtue with knowledge. We have to know our Bibles to know how to be virtuous!
As we spend more time in our Bibles, we naturally begin to supplement knowledge with self-control. The more we know what God wants from us, the easier it is to control our sinful desires. That then leads us to supplement self-control with steadfastness. Can anybody tell me what “steadfastness” means?
[A first grader answered "It's when you don't change". What a great answer from someone so young!]
Right. Steadfastness is basically a long-term pattern of self-control. It means we don’t move from our convictions. We hold steady. We stand fast.
Steadfastness leads to godliness, which is the point when our lives really start to look like Christ! That means we will then show brotherly affection to other Christians, which in turn leads us to love EVERYONE! That’s the way we can be most like God, because God IS love!
Do we see how these qualities all work together? It all starts with faith. We are all at different points in our walk with Christ. Everybody has a different amount of faith; some of you may not be Christians yet. But we can all pray that God would help us become more like Christ by giving us more faith, more virtue, more knowledge, more self-control, more steadfastness, more godliness, more brotherly affection, and most of all, more love.
When we have these qualities, Peter says, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that each of you would be effective and fruitful Christians. Let’s pray.