I recently had occasion to look at Louis Vuitton purses. Yes, they are known for their style and elegance, but maybe more well known for their ridiculous prices. As such, many people will do whatever it takes to carry one on their arm. “Whatever it takes” means that many people will fake it. That’s right, not every purse you see with the Louis Vuitton logo is made by Louis Vuitton. Many of these fakes seem so real that it takes a trained eye to detect them. This is exactly what the apostle Paul is helping us understand today in 1 Peter 1:5-11. Just like designer handbags, there are many people that want all the benefits of faith without paying the price.
Would you like to know if your faith is real? Paul begins this scripture with one simple way to be sure. He says that we need to add virtue to our faith. Other versions use the words ‘moral excellence’ and ‘character’ in place of virtue. These are the outward appearance of our inward faith. The Greek translations use words like purity and modesty to define them. Of course, the full reflection of our faith requires more than just virtue. Paul adds self-control, steadfastness, Godliness, brotherly affection and love to the list. As I read through that list, I hear the word obedience in the back of my head. Now, that’s not a word that I like to use, but I cannot think of a better description. In other words, Paul is telling us that obedience, as displayed through our virtue, self-control, steadfastness, Godliness, brotherly affection and love, is the outward proof of our faith. As we consider that truth, we must consider how these traits manifest themselves in our own lives. In addition, are they growing?
Paul hits us between the eyes in verse 9. He clearly states that these are traits that need to be developed. In other words, they need to be growing, continually. This is where it gets hard. If they are not growing, Paul exhorts us that we have forgotten about the gift given us by Jesus. Let me say it very directly, if these traits are not growing in your life, you have no faith. Ouch!
No, I don’t like thinking that maybe I have put my faith on hold. No, I don’t like to be reminded that sometimes I get off track, taking my life into my own hands. Why? Because it puts me face to face with inauthentic faith. Thankfully, I have been created by a loving God who relentlessly pursues a relationship with me. Paul gets it right in verse 4. He says, “by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” 2 Peter 1:4 (ESV). There it is, God makes us authentic. In fact, he promises authenticity to those who believe. I don’t know of any other response to becoming authentic, than praise and worship. Thank you Lord, for doing for me what I am not capable of doing for myself.