2 Peter 1:5-7
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;…
We have now reached the last bead on thisrosary of Christian graces. As the apostle uses it here, this love is the crown and consummate flower of all Christian excellence; the last result of discipline and self-culture, the very image of God.
I. "CHARITY" IS THE SUM OF ALL DUTY TO ALL MEN. We hear it urged — and there is a truth in the saying — "we want less charity and more justice." Yes! but we want most the charity which is justice; the love which every man has a right to expect from us. You do not do your duty to anybody, however you may lavish gifts upon them, unless this Christ-like sentiment dwells in your hearts. The obligation has nothing whatever to do with the character of the object on which that ray is to fall. The sun is as much bound to shine upon a dunghill as upon a diamond. Our obligation to love our fellows has a far deeper source than the accidents of their character. Now let me remind you that all this is an intensely practical exhortation. People curl their lips at the fine words that Christian teachers talk about universal love, and say, "Ah! a pretty sentiment. It does not mean anything." Well! let a man try for a week to live it, and the want of practicalness in the exhortation will be the last thing that he will complain of. Fine emotion is all very well, but even Niagara is going to be turned to practical use now-a-days, and made to work for its living. And all the rush of the deepest and purest emotion is nought unless it drives the wheels of life.
II. NOTICE HOW THIS SAME GRACE OR VIRTUE IS REPRESENTED AS BEING ATTAINABLE ONLY AS THE OUTCOME OF GODLINESS. There is only one thing that can conquer the selfishness which is the great enemy of this universal charity, and that is that the love of God poured into a man's heart shall on its bright waves float out the self-regard which is central and deep almost as life itself.
III. THIS GRACE IS THE LAST RESULT OF ALL CHRISTIAN CULTURE AND VIRTUE. The man that is simply righteous, strong, self-controlling, patient, has not yet touched the highest apex of possible development. All these cold and stern graces need to be lit up, like the snow of the glacier, with the gleam of this sweet, solemn light, in order that they may glitter with their serenest whiteness. Add to virtue, love; to knowledge, gentleness; to all the graces which regard our own self-development, the supreme consecration of the excellence that forgets itself, and stretches out loving hands, laden with tender sympathies and large gifts towards the weary, even if it be the hostile world. Further, this Divine charity, not only completes these sterner graces, but it needs them for its development and its perfecting. Our love to our fellows will never be noble, deep, Christlike, unless it be the child of severity to ourselves. And still further let me remind you that this wide, expansive, all-comprehending charity is the child of an intensely personal faith. It is when the love of Christ to me dawns on my heart that I am brought to the broad charity that grasps all the men whom Christ has grasped, and can-not but love in its poor measure, them whom He so much loved that He died for them.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;