2 Peter 1:5-11
5For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 10Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
In response to Christ’s gift for us, Christ’s promises to us, and God’s grace in which the readers (we) live, then they (we) must expend effort in support of the faith. The efforts required then are listed, one building upon another. Goodness supports faith, knowledge supports goodness, self-control supports knowledge. The list is a device common among philosophers of the time called a “virtue list”; virtue lists were intended to teach people to live moral lives. Christian communities often adopted virtue lists; we see some in Paul’s letters as well. In this case the list begins with faith and ends with love. Living in such a way – and certainly the list applies even today – leads to effective and fruitful ministry, and all believers are ministers, each in the way Christ has called us. We seek to be effective, to bear fruit in our service to Christ. But without these virtues – goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love – we are nearsighted and blind, ineffective. Not only that, but the person lacking them forgets what God has done for him, forgets the grace of his own forgiveness.
But no list of virtues is a complete list. We practice virtues to build character – it is our character that is important. It is possible to practice virtues for the wrong reasons, for personal gain or because we are taught to do so. We must practice virtues as a building on our faith – as a building of our character. And the character that we build by practicing the listed virtues should be one of love and caring, of living more like Christ, in the community of the church, and as servants of Christ, our King, in the Kingdom of God. When we do that, then we are a part of the eternal Kingdom, not just in the remote future, but in the here and now as well. We live a life with Christ that is rich and full, filled with his love.