The philosopher Socrates once said: ‘An unexamined life is not worth living.’ He was a Greek philosopher who lived in the fifth century before Christ, and his worldview was not Christian in any way. However, there is a great deal of truth that we can take for our lives today. It is easy for us to move through life as if we are on autopilot. We drift from moment to moment, going through the motions of each day without paying much attention to what is happening or how we are responding. Events happen and we tend to be caught up in the current of change that they bring. As life continues to flow around us, we move forward without much thought to what exactly is happening.
This can be especially true for our lives spiritually. We coast along, doing what we think is the right thing, maybe becoming involved in certain church committees or other activities because it is good to do, or because it is expected of us. We are motivated to do what God commands of us but often don’t think all that deeply about what is really going on in our hearts. Our lives bear evidence of God in the bigger details but when we look to where we are in the small, insignificant details, there isn’t all that much evidence of who rules our lives.
A big part of biblical counselling is looking at the details of our lives in the light of Scripture. Not just the big or important moments but the little, every day, seemingly insignificant ones. What does our behaviour in those moments say about who our God is? What are we believing about God and about ourselves that leads us to respond in such a way? Who is God and how is he working in the mundane parts of your life? This is something that is helpful for every one of us, not only those who are hurting. We are all called to examine our lives and hold them in the light of scripture.
In 2 Peter 1:10 we are told to be “all the more diligent to confirm our calling and election.” As Reformed believers, we believe that God has chosen us and that is not based on anything that we do. At the same time, we are called to actively be sure of our calling. This is not something that can happen if we are on autopilot.
As we look to the wider passage, Peter reminds us of that great and wonderful calling that we have been chosen into: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (vv. 3-4)
Our election is not merely an election to eternal life. It is an election and a calling to continually grow in Christlikeness. A calling to fellowship and communion with the triune God that does not happen if we are drifting through our lives. Peter continues: “For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (vv. 5-7)
Here Peter is giving us very specific qualities, tangible things for us to be busy with—qualities that we can take the time to examine in ourselves and see where we might be drifting, or where we might be caught up in the current of the world around us. Below is a list of questions that fit into those different points, designed to help you dig deeper into your own heart and examine what is really going on.
• Are you continuing to make every effort to grow your faith? Are you busy holding on to the promises of God? What are you doing so that you may grow in trust and confidence that he is busy in the details of your life, a faith that extends beyond your salvation and eternal life? Do you trust that everything that is happening to you and those around you is for your good (Romans 8:28)?
• Are you constantly growing in knowledge of who your God is and what he has done? What other knowledge are you consuming? How are those voices influencing you? Are you swayed by the noise of the world around you? Are their more persuasive voices that you find yourself aligning yourself with? What are you doing to fill yourself with knowledge of the triune God?
• Are you growing in self-control? Do you have an awareness of your emotions and the directions they might be pulling you in? How do you respond when you are commanded/mandated to do something you don’t like (e.g., wear masks, drive a certain speed)? Do you have enough space in your life so that you can engage your emotions with the God of the universe?
• Do you stand firm and steadfast, unswayed by the influences of the world and the circumstances of your life? Are you grounded and secure in the Rock that is your Saviour? Do you whole heartedly sing along with David, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold?” What happens to you as you find yourself facing the storms of life? Do you take refuge in God, or are there things that distract you? In what ways do you find yourself drifting, reaching out for quick comforts, escaping into ideas that only protect you for a moment?
• Are you growing in godliness? What evidence of the fruit of the Spirit is in your life? How is it growing? Does your life bear testimony to the triune God? Not just in the big things but in the small details: how drive your car, your spending habits, the way you respond to a dog barking when you are trying to sleep, how you interact with people in the grocery store, and person you are at 10.30 on a Tuesday morning. These things matter. Do those moments bear fruit as you live to serve God and those around you?
• How do you show brotherly affection? How do you respond and interact with those who have a different opinion than you? Do you interact with people who think differently to you, or are different in some way (e.g., age, life stage, marital status, education)? Do you seek to understand and move toward your brothers and sisters in Christ? What does this look like specifically, right now, as you engage with others who think differently about vaccinations?
• What are you doing to show love to God and to your neighbour? What do some of the behaviours you have reflected on say about the relationship you have with God as you move about you daily moments? What are you doing to make every effort to show love to your family, to your friends, to others in your church and to those in your community? How are you loving your neighbour?
Peter continues, “For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep your from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (vv. 8-9)
We must not drift. The Holy Spirit is continually at work in us, sanctifying and nurturing us so that we do bear fruit. It is with the power of the Holy Spirit that we can have the humility and insight to reflect on what these questions reveal about our hearts. It is with the power of the Holy Spirit that we continue to hold on to the grace that God has extended us in our election.
“Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (vv. 10-11)
Let us continue to grow together, encouraging each other just as Peter was encouraging his readers. May we continue to grow, always making every effort to build on our faith and draw into a closer fellowship with the triune God.
Camille de Vos