Faith was never intended to stand alone. In today’s culture we often hear in Christian and Secular rhetoric the phrase, “Have Faith!” And yet the Bible teaches that faith alone does not cut it. James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:13) and more specifically that a person is justified not by faith alone (James 2:24). Faith is no doubt instrumental in our ability to exist in the hope of our salvation through Jesus Christ. However, faith can be so much more than the whimsical emotion accompanying belief. Faith has friends. Faith has fortified compatriots. Peter encourages us, in escaping the corruption of our sinful desires, to:
“…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 1:5-8)
What valuable teaching for us! The danger and often disaster of pursuing faith alone is the foundationless emotional dependency that is so “wishy-washy” in our lives. How can we grow in our sanctification when we anchor ourselves to our faith alone? No, it was not intended to be this way. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Both Paul and Peter knew that faith is necessary, but it is also just one element in our journey to indulging in and reflecting the love of God. So let us look at these valuable attributes that we are to aspire for in addition to our foundation of faith:
Knowledge – The prize of discovery. This knowledge is acquired from the Holy Spirit as He teaches us through the Bible, prayer, people, and circumstances.
Self-Control – The fortitude of conviction. It is obtained by the recognition that all of our needs are satisfied through Jesus.
Steadfastness – The ability to persevere. Steadfastness exists with peace only when hope is on the forefront of our minds.
Godliness – The purity of our adoption. Because we are only clean by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our godliness exists as we point to Him.
Brotherly Affection – The fellowship of grateful co-heirs. Our ability to look on another and envision them with the grace and love that the Lord sees when He looks upon us.
Love – The greatest of aspirations. To live apart from fear. To live apart from hate. To live, aspiring that in every moment we are grateful for all that God the Father has created, thankful for our salvation through Jesus Christ, and honored that the Holy Spirit is within us, guiding us to become more like Christ.
These seven attributes that we are to aspire for in addition to faith give us a concrete lesson plan for our lives. Thus, when we face the “wishy-washy” nature of our emotions and wonder where the solid ground is, we can look at 2 Peter 1:5-8 and know that faith has friends and we would do well to aspire for them.