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. – 2 Peter 1:5-7
Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6) Godliness is an awareness of His presence with you regardless of where you are, what you are doing, or what you have. Once you have gained Godliness, you have achieved the ultimate Christian goal as far as this life is concerned. Jesus promises to never leave us nor forsake us, and if you make it this far in the journey from faith to love, you are now extremely aware of it.
Here is the thing that I’ve learned about Godliness: Every time I have received a heightened awareness of His presence, I’ve also receive a heightened awareness of how I don’t deserve it. As soon as Isaiah got into the presence of God in chapter 6 of his book, he became extremely aware of his sinfulness, particularly his “unclean lips.” I am amazed that after all the times I’ve failed Him, all the times I’ve ignored Him, and all the times I’ve refused Him that He still loves me, uses me, and manifests His presence to me.
It is because of this very awareness of not deserving Godliness that one is able to move into a brotherly love. Now that your love for God is increasing, it is now time to love people. “Love God, love people” is the slogan of a vast amount of churches in the U.S. I don’t think there is a thing wrong with this, but it sure is easier said than done. Peter is teaching us here that there are a lot of steps involved before you can truly love people.
Why do Christians love people? Love isn’t something you can fake. You either genuinely do or you don’t. I was unable to for years despite the fact I was supposed to. I’ve learned that when you have any degree of God’s presence on your life, you actually begin to see a person for why they are instead of who they are.
I will give you an embarrassing example that I hate to admit. One time, we got a kid at the alternative school that I just didn’t like right off the bat. I can’t really go into the details about this kid, but let’s just say he had plenty of problems. Well, because of a mistake that I made, he missed his bus. I called home and got permission to bring him home because I felt horrible. He was worried they would blame him for missing it, but I assured him that I’d take all the blame, which I did. After one ride with this kid and one conversation, I understood everything about why he was the way he was. I immediately had a brotherly love for this kid. All he needed in his life was some breaks to actually go his way and he would have been just fine. I went from resenting him and avoiding him to really making a focused effort to help him, get to know him, and pour into his life.
I almost hate to admit this because it sounds so bad, but without God being so good to me, I’m not sure I would have ever chosen to be good to him.
If you are a Christian, show kindness today to someone you don’t think deserves it.
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8