Sermon Illustrations - Tag: 2 Peter 1:5
Posted by Douglas on Oct 20, 2006

When I was a child, my parents both worked as school teachers. An easy job? No way! If you've never had the experience of standing in front of a group of people and teaching, let me assure you -- it is exhausting work!

And at the end of the day, when classes were over and we returned home, the day wasn't really over. Because there were still papers to grade and lesson plans to write. It seemed like a never-ending job.

But one thing I remember about those days is that, during the spring time, and again in the fall, when dad returned home from school, he could often be found out in our garden. Planting vegetables, hoeing, pulling up weeds, fertilizing...

Another never-ending job.

And mom -- she would be in the kitchen, preparing another great meal for all of us...four boys who ate so much, and rarely remembered to thank her for her hard work.

Not just a never-ending job, but often a thankless one as well.

There were days when I'm sure dad didn't feel like being out in the garden pulling up weeds. There were days when I'm sure mom didn't feel like diving into the kitchen work. There were days when I'm sure neither of them wanted to sit down in the evening to grade papers and plan the next day's lessons.

But they continually did these things, day after day. There is a word that describes this behavior: diligence.

Diligence means: constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.

Important tasks are often accomplished only through great diligence. If the garden is not weeded regularly, the weeds choke out the plants, and there are no crops. If the kitchen work is not done, the boys go hungry. If the lesson plans and grading are not done, the students stop learning, eventually the administration becomes unhappy, and in the long run there is no paycheck!

Diligence is a vital part of life, but in a society which wants nothing more than to be entertained, diligence often takes a back seat. We forget how to put our mind, our body, and our heart into a task and never look back.

In one of his epistles, Peter tells us to "make every effort", which simply means to be diligent. Perhaps more than any other area of our lives, the spiritual life requires diligence.

1:5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.2 Peter 1:5-7 (ESV)
And this is probably the area of life in which we are least diligent. A healthy and growing spiritual life requires commitment and diligence. Diligence in the disciplines of prayer and scripture reading/study. Diligence in rooting out the weeds of sin in our lives. Diligence in encouraging others, in working together, and showing the love and compassion of Christ in our lives.

Unfortunately, we tend to hope that our spiritual lives will blossom without consistent, faithful, determined, constant and earnest effort. It won't happen. How diligent are you in your spiritual disciplines?

This object lesson is part of a series of "one-word lessons" from 2 Peter 1:5-8. Each week in our youth group I am teaching one word from those verses.

Posted by Douglas on Oct 20, 2006

Excellence is defined as: the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence

We often use this word when talking about musical performance, academics, and sports. Thinking about the word excellence makes me think of when I learned to play ping-pong.

I was in college, and I used to play against my roommate all the time; late at night we would go down into the dorm basement and play for hours. Neither of us was a great player -- we just had a lot of fun (and wasted a lot of time!).

And we weren't really serious about getting better. Consequently, we really didn't get much better.

Until the day Yin, a tournament champion, moved into the dorm. He offered to play the winner, and proceeded to absolutely destroy me. I think I got one or two points against him.

Then, a few weeks later, another tournament champion moved into the dorm. (What was it about my dorm that attracted ping-pong players? I'll probably never know! ;D) When I mentioned to Bob about playing against Yin, Bob said, "Yeah, he's not that good."

I was shocked. "Really?"

"No, he just has three or four 'tricks' -- once you get past those, he's not hard to beat."

So I said: "Teach me!"

For the next few weeks Bob and I were in the basement most evenings. Not playing games (I knew he would butcher me, anyway). Bob taught me how to watch my opponent. How to study the way his arm, his wrist, his hand and his paddle moved. How to watch the way the paddle intersected with the ball. How to predict the path of the ball based on all these things. How to wait and watch the bounce before swinging.

He taught me to be a defensive player.

And the next time I played Yin, I discovered that he relied very heavily on his serve. Once I could get past that, the volleys were not nearly as difficult. This time I got eight or nine points against him.

Then Bob started teaching me to play offensively. Not just to block what my opponent was trying to do, but to use it against him. How to spin the ball, how to take a low hit and put a vicious top spin on it to move it fast without driving it into the net. How to fool my opponent into thinking I was doing one thing, when I was really doing another. How to push the battle into his court.

Then I took all of this, and with some practice, was finally able to beat Yin. I had gone from being a novice player to a player of excellence. (Of course, now, after a decade and a half, I'm back to being just an average player, because I never practice anymore.)

2 Peter 1:5 talks about having moral excellence. And like excellence in ping-pong, moral excellence requires hard work and (as 2 Peter 1:5 also says!) diligence.

And, like excellence in ping-pong, moral excellence also has both a defensive and an offensive component.

The defensive component is what we most often think of -- it's learning to defeat Satan's temptations. How to say No to his attacks. Whether we face sexual temptations, or temptations to lie, to steal, to have prideful thoughts, bitter thoughts, or whatever the temptation might be, we must develop the ability to be defensive, and block Satan's "fiery darts."

But we often forget about the offensive component of moral excellence. The offensive component means taking the battle into his court. It means not just saying "No" to the bad, but finding the good and saying "Yes" to it. Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of the good things that we say yes to. This is a good starting point -- we don't just reject the bad, we fill our minds with the good.

And when we face temptation to do something bad, we take that as our cue to go out and find something to do that would just drive the enemy nuts.

This is why, in our youth group, we try to provide many opportunities for our teens to serve -- to help at the nursing home, the homeless shelter, doing yard work for senior citizens, helping Child Evangelism Fellowship with some of their ministries. It is all part of moral excellence, because it is the offensive component of defeating the enemy in our lives.

Moral excellence: Say no to the bad, say yes to the good.

This object lesson is part of a series of "one-word lessons" from 2 Peter 1:5-8. Each week in our youth group I am teaching one word from those verses.

Popular tags
Christian life, Jesus, character, love, integrity, trouble, hiking, mountains, children, heaven, music, the church, gifts, contentment, 1 Peter 2:4, God's will, scripture, foundation, heart, 1 Peter 2:1, perseverance, sermon on the mount, Philippians 4:8, faithfulness, devotion, sin, Romans 12:2, spiritual discipline, 2 Corinthians 3:18, art, renewal, human nature, salvation, hope, faith, humility, responsibility, interpretation, listening, materialism, justice, behavior, Galatians 6:1, self-control, envy, Philippians 4:11, 2 Peter 1:5, creation, blessings, Psalms 103:13, Philippians 2:3, beauty, Matthew 6:26, excellence, servanthood, age groups, strength, Hebrews 12:2, teaching, stability, obedience, 1 John 5:3, generosity, Titus 2:11, death, the gospel, deceit, commandments, selfishness, Christmas, Colossians 4:6, context, 1 Peter 1:17, 1 Peter 2:19, Psalms 95:7, cleansing, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Philippians 2:1, ambassadors, wisdom, Psalms 8:3, Philippians 4:9, kindness, 1 Peter 1:23, 1 Peter 2:21, Psalms 29:3, Leviticus 19:32, culture, unity, Philippians 2:9, walking the talk, James 1:2, mind, Genesis 9:6, imitating, Proverbs 25:16, Psalms 73:18, Galatians 6:2, Luke 2:10, Psalms 29:9, respect, James 1:17, Colossians 3:12, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Matthew 22:37, James 2:10, Proverbs 25:17, Psalms 73:2, family, Incarnation, glory, John 4:34, Ecclesiastes 4:9, Numbers 32:23, Psalms 40:8, 1 Peter 2:12, 2 Timothy 4:3, Psalms 84:10, grace, Epiphany, Romans 14:6, fellowship, John 8:34, Philippians 4:1, Luke 14:12, gentleness, Matthew 5:36, Isaiah 40:4, judgment, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:19, power, Philippians 3:20, honor, diligence, Psalms 17:8, 1 Peter 2:6, John 1:23, Matthew 28:19, 1 Peter 2:22, regeneration, Galatians 6:5, Psalms 66:18, 1 Peter 2:11, meekness, 1 Corinthians 13:7, attention, disappointment, Matthew 15:11, Matthew 10:5, comparisons, Matthew 11:30, prayer, light, sojourners, John 13:15, Matthew 6:25, Hebrews 10:24, preaching, Proverbs 25:8, discipleship, John 14:3, Psalms 1:1, Genesis 2:7, Deuteronomy 32:4, Ecclesiastes 11:1, John 10:1, Matthew 6:34, 1 Peter 2:2, peace, John 11:35, Luke 12:34, Christ's return, counsel, Romans 8:24, Ecclesiastes 1:4, Matthew 15:18, John 6:38, voice, James 1:19, Psalms 95:8, Proverbs 3:5, resurrection, Luke 12:32, Revelation 22:20, cooperation, patience, 1 Peter 3:3, Ecclesiastes 7:2, Ecclesiastes 11:4, Jeremiah 17:9, the good shepherd, Hebrews 12:15, public speaking, trust, grief, treasure, 1 Corinthians 15:1, Micah 6:8, 1 Peter 1:7, John 14:21, anger, John 16:33, Matthew 18:3, priorities, delayed gratification, James 5:5, Galatians 3:19, Psalms 50:10, math, suffering, bitterness, Titus 2:13, 1 Corinthians 15:30, Psalms 51:7, John 14:6, Philippians 2:12, 2 Corinthians 5:20, the law, 2 Corinthians 9:7, logic, 1 Peter 1:6, work, 1 John 4:19, John 10:10, danger, Titus 3:4, Colossians 1:16, Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 12:22, Isaiah 35:4, John 14:24, James 1:23, Deuteronomy 6:5, Romans 3:23, Matthew 7:12, Colossians 1:15, 1 Peter 1:18, Proverbs 25:13, truth, Matthew 5:37, body of Christ, Matthew 20:26, John 5:36, James 1:5, Revelation 5:2, golden rule