G.A.S…Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
The other night I was editing some pictures I had taken recently and as I examined them I was very unsatisfied. What looked good on the small LCD screen on the back of my camera was strikingly disappointing when displayed on my computer monitor. Suddenly I found myself pondering all too familiar thoughts. The reason my pictures weren’t as good as I imagined they would be must be because my lenses are old and out dated. Maybe I needed a new camera body. I mean, my Nikon is about 7 years old and has seen better days. Nikon has introduced more than a hand-full of new, updated bodies since then and one of them MUST be the answer.
The reality of the situation is obvious, though. I just need to learn to take better pictures. I don’t need a new camera or new lenses. My pictures can’t be blamed on bad lighting or less than optimal subject matter. The only element keeping my pictures from being better than they are is me; my understanding of my equipment, of proper technique, and attention to detail. I have everything I need to take excellent pictures. If I applied myself to gaining a better understanding of such principles as composition, light, and depth of field, my pictures would change dramatically. If I would spend more time getting to know the unique traits, strengths, and weaknesses of the camera and lenses I already own the results would be stunning. If I simply spent a fraction of the time using my current camera as I do researching new and “better” equipment it would be transformational.
What I need is not more, newer, and better, I just need to do the best I can with what I already have. The same truth applies for following Jesus.
It is a common tale that I have heard countless times (and in some instances said myself): “My life would be better or I would be more faithful to Christ if it weren’t for…my job…my family…my spouse…my finances…my health…the president…where I live…etc, etc, ad nauseam. The words “if only…” creep into our minds far too easily and much too quickly. What is worse, many actually believe that to be the absolute, undeniable truth. When we follow this line of thinking to its logical conclusion, what emerges is the belief God has let us down as He obviously hasn’t given us the people and/or circumstances that we truly need.
The first chapter of 2nd Peter addresses this issue with striking clarity and to which we do well to heed.
2nd Peter 1:2-8
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1) We have all we need for life and godliness (vss. 2-4).
God has not left us in short supply for anything we need to live for Him. “Life” means we are spiritually alive, a new creation in Christ. “Godliness” is the outward expression of life that is pleasing and glorifying to Him. Life and godliness are neither earned by our own efforts or goodness. Peter states unequivocally they come from God alone. Specifically, they are granted to believers by the power of God. That we as believers possess such quality is the gift of God by the power of God.
Furthermore, believers possess the true knowledge of Christ, have been called by His glory and excellence, and granted His precious and magnificent promises. What more could we possibly need than what He has given us? There is nothing to assail us, nothing to disable us, and nothing that can destroy what God has given us; no circumstance, no person, no context is more substantial that our provision in Christ, for what we have been granted is the divine nature that overcomes the world.
2) Our growth requires significant, personal effort (vss. 5-7).
These simple words in verse 5 fully sum up the reality of our need: “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence…” The work of Christ in us doesn’t remove responsibility, it assures it. Growth in Christ comes from our response to what Christ has provided in us. The key word is “diligence”. “All diligence” implies maximum effort and attention to detail. The growth of our faith depends upon our faithful response to Christ as we fully extend ourselves trusting in His work to accomplish His purposes in us. Additionally, Peter does not leave our effort to ambiguity. Fullness of effort must specifically be exerted in areas of moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. It is an extensive as well as exhausting list but one we have been more than adequately equipped to accomplish in Christ.
3) Our effort comes with an assurance (vs. 8).
A question we ask ourselves often in relation to a variety of situations requiring work is, “Is it worth it?” Unashamedly it is a legitimate question! Nobody wants to work hard, work up a sweat, and feel the pain of maximum exertion without some assurance of resulting value. Peter leaves believers with the promise that such effort renders us both useful to God as well as fruitful for Him. Usefulness implies value and importance. God places value and importance on our maturity which He is the provider for. Fruitfulness is all about productivity. Working hard by trusting Christ to grow in Christ carries the promise of tangible results. We will be able to observe and experience God’s blessing as a result.
In short, what Peter is imploring us to do is to take a long, extensive look inward. Do we know Jesus Christ? If we do, then yes we are able and yes we can. Rather than focusing on we think we need, Peter compels us to trust God’s full provision for our needs. Lastly, rather than placing blame on something or someone outside of ourselves, he drives us to take responsibility for being a good steward of God’s provision of Christ in us.