Friday, June 3, 2011

Taking inventory

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  – 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NIV)

Of all the end-of-the-school-year jobs I have, I dread taking inventory the most. But knowing what I have and what I don’t have will make things easier when the new school year rolls around.

Taking spiritual inventory regularly is important, too. God’s Word tells me what I should have on my spiritual shelves:

Faith, believing that God exists and what He says in His Word is true, is most important. Without faith, nothing else on my shelves has meaning. Faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). I have faith that I have a home in heaven when I leave this earth. I have faith that God is with me at all times, living in me in the form of His Holy Spirit.

 Another important item is goodness. On my own, I can’t be good. I trip over my faults daily. The goodness St. Peter wrote about is God’s goodness. The New King James Version uses the word “virtue” – or “excellence in character and conduct.” Through the Holy Spirit’s power, I can live a life worthy of the price God paid for me on Calvary.
Knowledge of God is another item I need to keep in stock. How can a finite, limited human being ever begin to know the infinite, unlimited God? By reading and believing His Word. By talking to Him as though He were right beside you every moment of the day – He is, you know – and listening to Him when He speaks to you.

I tend to run out of self-control quickly because I use it frequently. Keeping guard of my thoughts, words and actions isn’t easy. I need to remember to stop and think before I act or speak. I need to open a package of “What Would Jesus Do?” daily.

Perseverance is sticking with something no matter how hard it gets. I’m not a good fighter. When the going gets tough, I’d rather turn tail and run. Discouragement and despair rule the day. Sometimes God sends a package of perseverance in the form of an encouraging friend.

If being good on my own is hard, then being godly is near impossible. Godliness – living my life so that I reflect God’s character – can be achieved by studying and meditating on Scripture, letting it soak into every fiber of my being. If I am to reflect God to the world, like a mirror reflects the sun, then I must turn my face to His Son.
Brotherly kindness and love go hand in hand. Sometimes it’s hard to love others, to be kind to those who are unkind. But I can practice kindness by choosing to treat others with respect, the way I want to be treated. By answering softly, and sometimes, biting my tongue and not answering at all. By refusing to dwell on the things that others say and do that irk me. By focusing on the rose and not the thorn in another’s personality.

And, finally, I need to keep a good supply of love on hand. Not human love because it’s used up too quickly, but divine love – letting God love others through me. Calvary tells me that everyone has worth in God’s eyes. Love with a tag of “sacrifice” on it is the kind of love God wants me to have for others.

Help me, Lord, to keep my shelves stocked with You. Amen.
Special-Tea: 2 Peter 1:5-11

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