2 Peter 1:5-7
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;…
I. Consider, first, WHAT THIS VIRTUE IS. No better suggestion has been made than that which takes it as meaning a certain manly energy, vigour, and firmness of disposition, which is the first outcome of Christian faith, and may well be the first aim of Christian effort. Now that strength of nature, firm tenacity of character, will at bottom be neither more nor less than a good strong will; for a man's strength is the strength of his will. And that being understood, what are the shapes in which this manly energy will manifest itself? There should flow from faith a tenacious vigour which masters circumstances and does not let them work with us as they please. True, the ship can only be carried by the wind and the currents, but, equally true, if there be a good strong hand on the tiller, and the canvas be wisely set, she can sail almost in the wind's eye. Circumstances do make us, but it depends on us what they make us. Though they supply the force, the guidance ties in the hand that holds the reins and pulls the bit. The strength of the Christian man will manifest itself in ruling outward things, and making them subservient, whether they be sorrowful or joyful, to the highest end of all, even his larger possession of a fuller Divine nature. And, in like manner, the "virtue" of my text will manifest itself in the rigid subjugation, by the energy of a strong will, of all my own inclinations, desires, tastes, passions, and the like; which all seek to assert themselves, and which the more mightily and ungoverned they work, the weaker a man is. In like manner, this manly energy, which all Christians are bade in the very first place to cultivate, will teach us independence of other people. Learn not to live upon their smiles, dare to be voices and not echoes, and to take your commandments, not from the habits of your class or of your calling, but from the lips which alone have power to command, and whose approval is praise indeed. Let me remind you that the gentle Christ is the pattern of this manly force as of everything else. All that the world adores as power looks weak, hysterical, strained by the side of the calm gentleness of that life which bears no trace of effort, and yet is mightier than all besides. He is Power, because He is Love.
II. And now observe THE ROOT OF THIS VIRTUE, OR ENERGY, IN FAITH. A faith which does not grow into virtue and knowledge, and all the other links in this chain is, if not dead, at least ready to perish if it has not vitality enough to fruit. And then need I say that the exercise of confidence in God, as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, has a direct tendency to produce this strong form of character of which my text speaks? Faith as the realisation of the Unseen will bring strength.
III. And now a word as to THE CULTURE OF THIS "VIRTUE" BY OUR OWN EFFORT. The original word is very graphic and picturesque. It means, "Bringing in by the side of," when fully and clumsily and yet accurately translated. "Bringing in your diligence by the side of" — what? By the side of that, "partakers of the Divine nature." God's gift does not make my effort unneccssary, but rather demands it as its completion and consequence. The best way by which we can give diligence to make ourselves strong, is by nurturing the faith which strengthens. Get into the habit of thinking about Jesus Christ all through your days, get into the habit of bringing mind and heart and will under the dominion of the principles of the gospel, and you will find the strength flowing into you and you will be mighty by Him. And we can get this strength in larger measure, too, by the simple process of habitually acting as if we possessed it. That is to say, you may cultivate the habit of suppressing yourselves, of stopping your ears to men's voices, of mastering and coercing circumstances. The Will gets dominion by asserting its dominion. There are no better ways of evolving this strenuous vigour from faith than these two — First, live near the source of it — "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." And then, exercise the little that you have got, and it will grow by exercise.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
WEB: Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge;