Wednesday, August 26

Effective Living: Using the Moral Compass


One ship sails east
One ship sails west
Regardless of how the winds blow.
It is the set of the sail
And not the gale
That determines the way we go.

Ellen Wheeler Cox
It is the set of the sail that determines the way we go. That is a great picture. So often we feel that we are bound by our circumstances and have no choice in how we respond. This simple poem helps set our ship aright regarding that type of thinking.

How important is the compass in setting the sail?

Read: 2 Peter 1:3-9
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Peter calls the believers to respond to their salvation by setting the sail toward goodness. The cultural slide of these days was similar to America today. There was doctrinal confusion in that people did not know how to think right about God and there was moral confusion in that people did not know how to act right toward others.

Goodness (ἀρετή) in the Greek is a broad word meaning excellence. Peter called these believers to begin to behave like new creatures that have been taken out of darkness. In his first letter (1 Peter 2:9) he used the word to describe the "excellencies of Him" who took us out of the darkness and put us in wonderful light.

Here in 2 Peter, "goodness" is used in verse 3 and verse 5. In verse 3 Peter reminds his hearers that God saved them out of his own glory and goodness. There is an excellence to His action of saving lost people. Later in verse 5, Peter calls the believers to mirror this goodness and excellence. He calls them to behave like the One that saved them. He called them to care like that One that saves.

The believers were expected to use their moral compass. They were expected to begin to act in line with their new position. They were no longer in the darkness. They were no longer "victims" of circumstance. They were not helpless. They were saved and empowered to begin to walk in excellence. They needed to put aside their immorality and past sins and trust the Lord. Peter commanded them to add to their faith goodness.

We short circuit effective living when we think that being saved is enough. We miss the mark when we think that we are free to do as we please. The truth is, freedom is the not ability to do what we want but is the power to do what is right. Some Christians never really see God work in their lives and never see people around them change because they think having faith is enough. Really, it is just the starting place. We are commanded to add to our faith goodness.

Do you live like you are in the light? Is your life marked by moral excellence? You do not have to be a Christian to have moral excellence. There are many "good" folks that have never met the Lord. However, you do have to add moral excellence to your faith if you want to be effective because many other qualities will build at that starting point.

Do you have a heart for the lost? Is your life marked by the excellencies of Him who saved you? Usually when you find something awesome you want to tell others about it. Does that describe your faith? It is a shame that we can get so excited about finding a new outfit or buying a new car but find it so difficult to share the life-giving message of Jesus Christ with our friends. Choose a friend and make a plan to show off that new outfit while you share the love of Jesus with them!

It is the set of the sail that determines the way we go. Obeying the moral compass will help insure we make it where God wants us to be.

DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.

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