Add To Your Faith
By George Müller
“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:5-8).
If we have believed in the Lord Jesus, we are not to be satisfied with this, but are to add to our faith. First of all we are to add virtue.
“Add to your faith virtue.” “Virtue” here means fortitude, or courage, implying that the very first thing after believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is to confess our attachment to Him. You must stand boldly out and make confession of Him. Some dear children of God think we may keep our religion to ourselves; there is no use in bringing it before our friends or relations – no use getting into trouble with them about it.
What is the result? The Lord Jesus Christ will not stand on our side to strengthen us if we will not take our stand by Him. Weak we are, weak we must remain as long as we are in this state. I do not say you will go to hell. But you are half-hearted, and the Master wants valiant soldiers. He looks for fortitude.
He will have us let those around us know whose we are, honestly and openly. We ought to be decidedly for Christ; that is of the utmost importance. The more we come out from the world, the better it will be for us in the things of God. We shall be strengthened, and the bolder we are for Christ, the happier will it be for ourselves. Make confession of Christ!
“Add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge.” It is important to read and meditate on God’s Word, but here comes a special exhortation to add to your faith, knowledge. We are not to be satisfied with knowing that we are sinners and that Christ is our Saviour, but we must seek to make progress in knowledge.
Why is this? To increase in knowledge, is to increase in the knowledge of God. As we increase in this knowledge of Him, we learn more and more of His love, and that it is the very joy of His heart to do us good. We see more and more what a lovely Being God is, and the result of this again is that we are satisfied with His dealings with us.
I have passed through very many trials, yet I have rejoiced in God. For nearly ten years – from 1838 to 1848 – I had difficulty upon difficulty, scarcely anything but difficulty. But I had always the help of God and always was joyous, even in the darkest day, because I knew that all came from God, my Father.
On that account I say to you, seek to increase in knowledge, and then, although there may fall upon you trial and affliction, even heavy trial, deep affliction, yet you can say, “It is from my Father, my loving Father, from Him who spared not His Son for me and from Him who has said that He will make all things work together for good to them that love Him; having freely given up Jesus for me, He will freely give me all things; therefore this trial must be good for me, else He would not suffer it to befall me.”
You can easily see how, in such a state of mind, we can pass through these trials and even in the midst of them we may have calmness and peace and even holy, heavenly joy. That is the result of being really acquainted with God. The only way to get this knowledge is by diligent study of the Word, and by the teaching of the Holy Spirit from that Word. Let us aim after this knowledge, and not be satisfied with the simple belief that we shall get to heaven.
The apostle next says to add to your faith, temperance. This is not merely abstaining from excess in drinking, though it does mean that, but self-control generally is here the meaning of this word. Regarding everything, whether meat or drink, or any other thing, we are not to give way to the abuse of anything God has given us. It is here used as regarding our temper, appetites and deportment generally. By the way in which we behave ourselves do we glorify God or dishonor Him.
The world is watching us to see how so-and-so, who has become a Christian, behaves himself. If they see us walk inconsistently, then they speak against our Master, while on the other hand, if they see us walk consistently, they are compelled to give honor to our God.
“And to temperance, patience,” that is, be satisfied with the will of God. If we have this contentment, we shall be able to endure tribulation and suffering and even bereavement and sickness, satisfied that it is for the best. If we are the children of God, we are but strangers and pilgrims here. This is not our home; here we have no continuing city. Therefore we heed not the troubles or difficulties by the way. They will soon pass. Let us therefore aim after showing, by our quiet, patient demeanor, that we are satisfied with God’s dealings with us.
“Add to your faith, godliness,” that is, the habit of referring everything to God. It means that we pray about everything and do everything as seeing Him who is above, that we walk as confident that God is our strength, that we walk by day and by night as in the sight of God. In short, it is that we walk in holy, precious fellowship with God, that we remember that He is before us and with us, that the Father’s eye is upon us and that we seek to be guided and directed in everything by Him.
Is it your calm, quiet purpose to aim after all this? If so, you may be certain that God will give you more power to follow Him. God allows us, for His own wise purposes, to have our lot in this life cast amidst darkness in many respects. But think not of that. Remember, we are getting nearer the end. The day is drawing near when the Lord Jesus Christ will come. I do not say by this that I can specify the time or that it will be such and such a date. But this is certain, we are getting nearer the end. Nearer the day when the Lord Jesus Christ will appear in glory to call His waiting saints to meet Him in the air.
How this ought to warm our hearts, and to fill us with a longing to serve Him, and to be like Him. If others are cold, then let us seek to warm them. If others are foolish, let us seek to teach them. If fire be lacking in others, let us, His servants, be burning coals to set them on fire.
Let us remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Oh the blessedness of bearing much love to others instead of receiving it only, of warming others instead of being warmed only, of teaching others instead of being taught ourselves only.
Oh, beloved in Christ, let it be a matter of great importance to you, that you aim after godliness, living near to God in this life, that we may enjoy in the blessedness of being living witnesses for Him! Let us seek that we may be made burning coals. In helping to bless others we shall be greatly blessed in our own souls, and the fire thus kindled will burn in our own hearts.
This is “the love of the brethren.” If this is wanting, there is very much wanting. The heavenly Father looks for love among His children, whom He has loved with an eternal and unchangeable love. He would have us love one another. If we do not love the brethren, where is the proof that we love God? God does especially look for this love, and He would have us add to all other graces particularly this grace – the love of the brethren.
And more, we are to add to all this love, that is universal love. Not merely are we to love the children of God, but to love those who are not of us and do not love us. We are to love those who do not care in the least for us. We are to love those who do not walk with us on the road to heaven, and whom we have never even seen or of whom we have never heard. We are to love every one of the human family. That is the will of our heavenly Father regarding us.
He would have the heart of His children so large as to take in all, and then we have what is commanded – universal love, which will manifest itself in seeking to do good to all our fellow men.
We shall seek to do them good in every possible way, but especially in striving after the salvation of their souls. This is what our heavenly Father teaches us, when He causes His sun to shine on the evil as well as on the good, and when His rain descends on the just and the unjust. By all this He would teach us to love everyone, even our enemies themselves. “To brotherly kindness, therefore, add love” – love to all.
The Result of This – Fruit
What is the practical result of all this? It is fruit. “For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we seek to add to our “faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” – if these things abound, “we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is impossible to lead an idle life if these things be found in us, for we shall be seeking to bring glory to God, and it is impossible that we should not bear fruit. If these things be found in us, it is impossible to stand in the divine life. We shall surely make progress to the praise and honor and glory of God. We shall bear fruit.
The result will be that we shall not merely bear fruit thirty-fold, not merely forty-fold, or forty-five fold, not even fifty, fifty-five, or sixty-fold only, but there is the possibility to bring forth fruit eighty or ninety-fold. Who shall tell us there is not even the possibility of bearing fruit a hundred-fold? But whether we do bear fruit to this extent or not, it should be our aim to bear fruit abundantly.
The Contrary Result
“He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Pet. 1:9). That is, he that neglecteth these things is dim-sighted. He has not the mind of God. He has more or less the mind of the world. If you bring certain things before him, such as the importance of prayer, that man will probably say you are too religious, too pious. He cannot understand you.
Why is this? Why should a man who has been forgiven and placed on the road to heaven, whose eyes have been opened to spiritual things, become thus blind? It is by neglecting to add to his faith these graces. He has become dim-sighted concerning the heavenly realities; he has been spiritually blinded and has forgotten the state from which he was delivered.
How deeply important, therefore, that we should cultivate these graces! Let us add all these things.
– Arranged from Counsel to Christians by George Müller.