Who doesn’t want to make a difference now and for eternity? But, how does God identify effectiveness and productivity? As believers we must get beyond the world’s standards, defining our ultimate purpose and reaching our greatest potential in and according to Him.
The Potential for Being Effective & Productive
2 Peter 1:5-7 lists important traits for followers of Jesus — faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection (brotherly kindness), and finally love (agape, divine love). Verse 8 goes on to state that “if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Note how all these qualities culminate in love. As believers we have the potential of living effective and productive lives by loving as God loves. In identifying love as the Greatest Commandment, Jesus set up love for the Lord and others as the ultimate purpose in life. He said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). When we love, we are doing the greatest thing we could ever do and exhibiting the greatest character trait we could ever possess. In 1 Peter 4:8 we’re exhorted, “Above all, love.” Certainly then, when we love as He loves, we’re reaching our potential in Him.
The Process Leading to Effectiveness & Productivity
We don’t get saved one day and wake up the next filled and overflowing with God’s love. According to 2 Peter 1:5-8, reaching our potential to love as God loves, requires certain traits being built into our lives with love being the ultimate. We must “make every effort” to keep progressing toward this ultimate purpose. When the Apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12), he was acknowledging that reaching our potential in Him isn’t automatic. It’s a journey, an ongoing growth process.
The Problem that Halts the Growth Process
Notice how perseverance sits in the middle of the traits listed in 2 Peter 1:5-8. If we don’t persevere, we won’t make it to love. And, without love, all our efforts are meaningless, hallow, just noise. And, we “gain nothing” without love according to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
If we don’t keep increasing and progressing in the growth process, we won’t reach God’s ultimate for our lives. — “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:8) Believers who do not possess these qualities are “nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Pet. 1:9).
The Plan for Persevering
To persevere, we need focus, not on a process but rather on a Person. Jesus provided the ultimate expression of love in dying on the cross for us. — “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13). We mustn’t forget what Jesus did in order for us to be cleansed from our sins. We must “fix our eyes on Jesus” so that we can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1-2). He went before us, setting an example for us to follow.
The Power to Live Effective & Productive Lives
Fixing our eyes on Jesus must be more than looking at or following His example. We don’t have it within ourselves to love as He loves. How, then, can we ever live effective and productive lives? We must look at Jesus not only as our Standard but also as our power Source. Jesus Himself said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). As a branch pulls on the sustenance and strength of the vine, so we must look to Jesus if we have any hope of living life with purpose and making an eternal difference.
How appropriate that within the context of the verses we’ve been looking at in 2 Peter 1, we find verse 3. — “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
- The Church Purpose Ministry Manual could be a starting point for leaders and leadership teams to work through living life with purpose as a church in order to make a greater difference.
- As church leaders model this in the decisions and ministry of the church, you are then ready to teach the congregation. The Living Life with Purpose Curriculum will help adults in your church reach their potential in loving God and loving people in all aspects of their lives.