The ladder of Love
Big Idea: The Christian life is a process. It begins with faith in Jesus, but must continue in developing, or it will die. Like a baby who is born healthy, but must continue being nourished, spirit, soul and body throughout life.
Scripture: 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. 2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV
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 1:5-8 ESV
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 make your calling and election sure, 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 Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:9-11 ESV
We begin the journey by accepting Jesus as our Saviour, and when we do that, we are immediately granted access to everything we need to grow and mature as believers.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 ESV
Then we are urged to “supplement our faith”. That word means “equip an army with all the necessary provisions for battle” or to “equip our souls with all the necessary virtues needed for an overcoming life”.
There are seven virtues necessary to supplement our faith, and to keep us effective and fruitful.
The foundation upon which the ladder rests is faith. It’s the unquestioning certainty that to attain the peace and joy God promises, is to accept that God’s Word is true, and to build our life on that solid conviction.
Add virtue to our faith. Virtue is excellence. The Greek Word was used to describe soil that was fertile and ready to produce healthy crops. It is a virtue, often translated “courage” that is necessary to make us good citizens, good friends, spouses, parents and effective in our service to God.
Add to our virtue, knowledge. This word is a “practical knowledge”, to make good and wise decisions in everyday life.
Add to our knowledge, self-control. This literally means “to get a grip on one’s self”. This implies a person who is passionate, but his or her passions are under perfect control.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
Add to self-control, steadfastness. This does not mean a passive patience, but a looking forward to ultimate victory and usefulness.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
Add to steadfastness, godliness. When a person receives Jesus, he takes on a double duty, to God as well as to his neighbour. He or she looks in two directions. They worship God but also live to serve their fellow-man.
Add to godliness, brotherly affection. This is the word “Philadelphia”. This simply means that you love people and that you give time to them. Some people are so “heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”. We have human responsibilities of loving relationships.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:19-21 ESV
Add to brotherly affection, love. Brotherly affection is not enough. The ladder reaches to the top when we, as believers give away the same love by which God loves us.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV
A wider view of the ladder. The more we persevere and the higher we climb, the further we are able to climb. 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 make your calling and election sure, 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. 2 Peter 1:9-11 ESV
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