Thursday, January 19, 2023
2 Peter 1:8-9 “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. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”
Sometimes I think about the principle of increasing measure. Snow removal is a real-time illustration of this principle. When it snows again, I am going to have trouble. I have not removed the last snowfall from the driveway. The one before that had left heavy slush that was too heavy for my snow blower. Consistent traffic has packed it down, and it is icy, rutted, and bumpy. The snow blower will bounce and be hard to steer. My feet will slip on the ice. I may be tempted to not remove any more snow and just pack it all down for the rest of the winter. At least it wouldn’t be so slippery.
We make similar decisions in our lives and then experience the principle of increasing measure. It is equally valid in the negative and the positive world.
First, in the negative world of sin, every choice we make to ignore sin will only bring an increasing measure of sin. Sin is a weed, and unless the soil of your heart is being consistently cultivated with the Word of God, those weeds will choke out the harvest of righteousness. Sin will take over. You will become nearsighted, and unable to focus on things of the future because you are only focused on the immediate. That will eventually lead to blindness, and you will not be able to see God at work in any part of your life. That will lead to forgetfulness, when even the memory of God’s grace is covered by the desire to fulfill the sinful pleasures of the world.
The Bible gives us some good advice at this point –
- “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26)
- “Avoid even the appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
- “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)
- “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17-18)
Be careful, brothers and sisters in Christ, that you do not succumb to the principle of increasing measure by allowing a single sin to go unchecked in your heart. It will multiply and choke out the seeds of faith that have been planted. You will become increasingly inward focused. Finding human solutions and fixing human pain will consume you. Gratifying self is sure to suppress grace. Bitterness will bury your beauty.
But on the positive side, the principle of increasing measure works equally well. In fact, because it is empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, it is guaranteed successful. The seed that brings this abundant harvest is faith, which must be watered with the knowledge of God. As our knowledge grows, it will be productive in changing our character and effective in conquering our conceit. We will become mirrored reflections of the character of Christ – humble servants of others who bring glory to God.
But again, let me caution you – it takes a determined and intentional effort to accomplish this. Just as it is not my neighbor’s responsibility to clean my driveway, it is not the pastor’s or the small group leader’s responsibility to make you grow up in Christ. You must do it. You must study. You must pray. You must apply the truth to your life. You must let the knowledge of God transform your mind and influence your choices. And as you do, God will abundantly increase your faith and keep you from being unproductive and ineffective.
The choice is yours. It always will be. Will you choose to have an increasing measure of self or the Savior? Will you choose to let bitterness, resentment, gossip, slander, hate, lust, adultery, covetousness, envy, or any of the other items on the long list of sin continue to stick to your driveway and then just drive over it as if it isn’t there? Or will you choose to put your hands to the spiritual snow blower powered by the Holy Spirit and remove every connection to sin so that God can fill you with an ever-increasing measure of His Son’s character? The choice is yours.