Effectiveness & Fruitfulness
May 31, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part seven in a multi-part series on Peter’s “road map” he gives for gospel growth in 2 Peter 1. Like many of you, I long to be effective and fruitful, especially in my spiritual life. Peter promises in the midst of this chapter, “if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful…” My interest is peaked. Let’s discover together Peter’s path of gospel growth.
Now that we have taken time to carefully consider each of the eight qualities listed by Peter, let’s look closely at verse 8: “If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have already discussed what having these qualities and increasing in them looks like. What does it look like to be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of Christ?
The word “ineffective” is a derivative from the Greek word meaning work or energy. James uses these words in contrast in James 2:20, “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works (ergon) is useless (argon)?” To be ineffective is to be useless, even fraudulent. The qualities Peter commends in 2 Peter 1:5-7 are not optional for genuine Christians. They are marks, much like works, of the presence of genuine faith.
The word “unfruitful” is an agricultural term. Jesus uses the word to describe the seed that fell among the thorns. The sprouts were unfruitful because of the cares of the world (Matt. 13:22). Fruitfulness draws to our minds the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. On of the characteristics of fruit is that it naturally grows according to the nature of the tree. Therefore, if we are grafted into Christ, we will bear fruit revealing Christlikeness (i.e. fruit of His Spirit).
The eight qualities are not merely marks or indicators of the presence of genuine faith, they also are the means to greater effectiveness and fruitfulness in Christ. We do not generate our own effectiveness and fruitfulness. They are produced by God himself (consider Eph. 2:10, keeping in mind the linguistic connection between works and effectiveness; for fruitfulness, see John 15:5).
These eight qualities, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, are the means to abide in Christ, the source for all fruitfulness and effectiveness. Peter has already emphasized the “all things that pertain to life and godliness” have been given us in Christ. How do we lay hold of and utilize “all things”? Through the increase of these eight qualities. As we explained in the last two weeks, increasing in each of the eight qualities is dependent on the gracious work of God. Increasing in the qualities deepens our relationship and growth in Christ, or, in other words, our abiding in Christ.
More next week.