NIV 2 Peter 1:3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence…5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My husband once commented about the oddity of buying yards of pricey fabric and then cutting it up into little pieces and reassembling them to make a quilt. It’s a labor intensive process and undeniably costly…but at the end of that process you have a beautiful and useful work of art to show for it. Reading and pondering this portion of Peter’s words brought to mind that process and this awareness: we have God’s pattern and all the supplies we need to make a very special quilt. “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” – yards and yards of the beautiful fabric of His Word.
Living a Godly life is a process just as making a quilt is. Even two quilts made from the very same pattern by two different people will look very different. Peter’s words aren’t a list of clever steps you can tick off as they’re accomplished. They are like pieces of a quilt that require choices to be made as you’re collecting, selecting, arranging and piecing together what often seems like odd, unrelated and even crazy combinations of fabric. Peter’s words describe the pattern God has given to help each of us create a uniquely designed quilt that becomes the beautiful and useful work of art that is our inheritance of faith.
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises.” Follow God’s pattern and Peter’s list; choose, collect, select, arrange and piece together your personal quilt from this fabric of words God has provided for you. “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”…and your inheritance will become a beautiful quilt of worship.
-Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
-Matthew 22:37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
-Luke 10:27…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.
These three New Testament Scripture passages all quote Jesus speaking words that would have been familiar to his Jewish hearers, the Shema. They’re words still used repeatedly in Jewish prayers. They all include loving God with your heart and soul which seems obvious. The inclusion of mind and/or strength is the variant that got my attention. I understand the access to mind and strength more than I do heart and soul.
This is the age-old debate: Is it strength of commitment or the exercise of the mind that fills the heart and soul? How do we figure out what’s required of us to prove our sincerity? It would seem even these Bible authors had their own opinion on that. Mind and strength? Mind? Strength? Do I have to choose one or the other?
Hillel was a famous religious leader in Jewish history. He was asked to recite the whole law for a dedicated student who would prove his sincerity and his physical strength by listening to it all while standing on one leg. That’s a funny mind picture isn’t it? Hillel’s short answer was probably pretty welcome to him; “What thou hatest for thyself, do not to thy neighbour. This is the whole law, the rest is commentary. Go and learn.”
This is the whole law…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” Now go find a comfortable spot, read, study and think. God will begin to write his whole commentary in your mind and on your heart to strengthen your soul
Jeremiah 18:1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5b…“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…
I took a pottery class once. It’s not as easy as it may look to take an unwieldy lump of clay and make something out of it. This Scripture is a perfect analogy of life experienced with God as he reshapes us. If he can’t open your eyes through his Word he’ll get the message to you some other way. God sometimes uses funny ways I call his humor to point out the difference between what appears to be and what actually is in the life of those he loves. We can react to them in shame [which is not God’s choice] OR choose to see them as humorous interventions of a potter at work.
I have some carpentry and remodeling skills and had offered to help a friend with a few projects. I arrived early, made a pot of coffee and work was underway when I received a phone call from another friend standing on my own doorstep, reminding me Bible Study was meeting at my house that morning…and where was I? I think that’s kind of a funny situation to find yourself in.
I put the pot of coffee on the floor of our new car to race home. You see where this is going, right? I turned the corner, over went the coffee pot and thru my brain went an unspoken word of profanity. I pulled off the road shaken more by that word than the coffee spill. Sitting there by the side of the road in the mess of my own making and stunned at my own unbidden response, God taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. You don’t get over your desperate need for him and he can use the “funniest” circumstances to remind you to be thankful he loves you enough to remind you of that.
Ah, humility…it comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a heart is moved by circumstances to act in secret on behalf of God to meet a need. Even in that secret act God’s humor seems to aim at what appears to be and what actually is in my life. We’d been privileged to be a part of meeting such a need. It was a heartfelt act…right up to the point the recipient gave a testimony about what a blessing it had been AND named the responsible person. It’s a heart-cleansing lesson in the humor of humility that reshapes you when the name given is someone else’s!
Humor is one of the tools the Potter uses to point out the difference between what appears to be and than reshapes it into what is in our life. It’s one way he gently accomplishes humility in us because “the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” 🙏😇