2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) “In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I have always loved flowers. From my earliest memories of planting marigold seeds with my sweet mama, flowers have been a beautiful part of my life. They make me smile on the gloomiest of days. Flowers have long inspired poets and artists. The great artist Claude Monet said, “I must have flowers, always, and always.” Henry Ward Beecher, a clergyman and abolitionist of the 1880s said, “Flowers may beckon towards us, but they speak toward heaven and God.”
Scripture also refers to flowers with frequency. Close your eyes and imagine a flower adorned garden in which God placed his first children. I’m sure it was decorated with an abundance of variety and a vast array of colors. In Luke 12:27, Jesus tells the disciples to consider how the lilies grow. He points out that even Solomon with all his wealth was not dressed like the beautiful flowers God created.
However, unlike the Garden of Eden, with its natural mist to maintain moisture, my flowers must be tended. One hot summer day, as I watered my front flower beds, I glanced up to where once-bountifully blooming flower baskets were hanging.
“Oh, NO! Look!” I cried to my husband. “They looked fine Friday!” I cried.
My husband surveyed the damage, and suggested we soak them in a revival attempt. Sadly, the soaking was “too little, too late.” I knew it had been hot, but we had received three inches of rain mid-week. The last time I had assessed the baskets, they seemed healthy. Apparently, I had not been vigilant.
We had been studying 2 Peter 1:5-8, Peter’s “formula” for living well as followers of Christ. Basically, Peter tells us if we attend to his plan, we will have certainty of being “productive and useful” to the Kingdom of God. We will grow spiritually strong, he says, when we add moral excellence to our faith. Peter unpacks other essentials that we need to achieve God’s promised blessings: knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and LOVE for everyone! Oh, how I long to have these virtues growing in me daily.
The Lord spoke to my heart with a spiritual application from my pitiful dead flowers. It appeared that my plants went from thriving to dying “almost overnight.” I was shocked, in fact, with their quick demise. My judgment had lapsed when I assumed they didn’t need immediate attention. The result? Disappointing consequences.
My loss of my flowers is a minor consequence compared to many of life’s unexpected detours. To live in a spiritually effective way, to receive the blessings God has prepared for me, I need to be watchful, attentive … vigilant, in fact. A person can’t simply throw together Peter’s hefty spiritual goals and expect instant attainment. Maybe this is what our Christian fathers have referred to as the “spiritual disciplines.” Goodness knows, my self-control needs hourly monitoring! Perhaps my lesson is that to acquire spiritual strength and blessing, I must tend to my daily progress.
This does not equate spiritual growth (sanctification) with “good works” to somehow earn salvation. “Earning salvation” is not Biblical. Eternal life in Heaven is freely given by grace through the gift of Jesus Christ. He took the penalty of my sin, providing a way for me to have a relationship with Father God.
However, Peter admonishes us to “make every effort” to respond to God’s promises. My dead flowers remind me to be vigilant in this task. Join me. Pledge to yourself to be vigilant in seeking Holy Spirit empowerment. Why? so you can “finish well” in this race of life. I aim for the greatest of all treasures, to grow in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.