Diligence And Excellence
God’s provision does not preclude our responsibility.
There are some who believe that since God has provided everything needed for the Christian life, believers should expect Him to do everything for them. Their motto is, “Let go and let God!” If Peter had a motto for the Christian life, it would have been more along the lines of the popular World War II song, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!” Peter knew the Christian life is a struggle in which believers need to expend the maximum effort to equip themselves with godly virtues—the virtues that, when present in our lives, produce assurance of salvation. He therefore prefaces the list of those virtues in verse 5 by saying, “Now for this very reason also,” thus pointing us back to God’s provision of salvation in verses 1-4. That provision is not meant to eliminate our efforts in living the Christian life but to enable and encourage them. We must, says Peter, live our Christian lives by “applying all diligence” to develop godly virtues.
Heading the list of virtues that should characterize our lives is “moral excellence.” The Greek term arete can also be translated “virtue.” In classical Greek literature, it often referred to the ability to perform heroic deeds. It refers to the quality that makes someone or something stand out as excellent. An arete knife was one that was sharp and cut well; an arete horse was one with speed and endurance; an arete singer was one who sang well.
“Moral excellence,” it should be noted, is not an attitude but an action. In fact, some suggest the meaning “moral energy” for it—the moral energy that gives us the power to do excellent deeds. Our model for that kind of active excellence is Jesus Christ, who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).
Never waver in your pursuit of excellence. In the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, “Excel still more” (1 Thess. 4:1).
Suggestions for Prayer
• Thank God for supplying everything you need to live the Christian life.
• Ask Him to help you to be diligent to develop godly virtues in your life.
For Further Study
Read Proverbs 4:23; 8:17; 12:27; 13:4; 21:5. What do those passages teach about the importance of diligence?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.