2 Peter 1:5-7
A Real Bucket List
The last few years I hear people talk about having a “bucket list” by which they mean a list of things which they would like to accomplish within a year or maybe even a lifetime. It might include a trip to Paris or a visit to a certain ballpark or perhaps even to read the Bible through in a year. There’s nothing wrong with such, but here we find the Apostle Peter speaking of a different kind of bucket list—one of eternal value. We must always remember where our priorities lie and which bucket list God will judge.
And so knowing that God has provided us with precious and very great promises that we may live a holy life, Peter now gives specific instructions on that list of things which need to be a daily and lifelong pursuit for the believer. And so to our faith we should add virtue. “Faith” in this case means that faith whereby we believe the gospel. And “virtue” refers to “moral excellence.” With virtue one should add “knowledge,” that is, the wisdom and discernment to lead a godly life. To knowledge one should add “self-control,” not giving in to one’s passions be they wrath or excess in eating, drinking, or filthy lust. To self-control the believer should add “steadfastness,” which is endurance in the face of trial and evil; it speaks to a “stick-to-it” nature that faints not in the heat of battle. To steadfastness the believer should add “godliness” which is piety and devotion to God. To godliness the Christian must add “brotherly affection” which is directed towards the brethren in the church. Believers in Christ have a bond that they do not share with unbelievers, even if those unbelievers be family. And finally to brotherly affection the believer adds “love” which is the crown of all the virtues in this list, that self-sacrificial, cross-bearing love that puts you ahead of me (Bauckman, Word Biblical Commentary, 185-8). The bucket begins with faith and ends with love, the bookends of the Christian faith.
This is quite a list, and as we survey it, we shrink from how far we fall from the qualities it demands. But as I said yesterday, these qualities are ours in Christ Jesus. Yes, we still carry about us our sinful natures which Paul addresses in Romans 7:7-25, but these sinful natures are no longer to have dominion over us. He is the Spirit who now has dominion, who now is our Lord and Advocate, Helper and Encourager—and the One who gives us strength and endurance to run the race. No more excuses. Grasp that freedom for which Christ became a servant and died and rose again that you might have, for “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Now embrace your freedom and the REAL bucket list!