Seeking First

God's desire is that we increase — that we increase in all things. He's given us everything we need for life and godliness.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.

2 Peter 1.3–10 NLT

Rather than take this out of the book of Matthew and Jesus’ sermon on the mount as is usual, the basis for this reflection is out of Second Peter. In chapter 1 of his letter we find him discussing the concept of increase, and increase through seeking the kingdom first and drawing close to God as first priority.
As we get to know Jesus better, as we increase in our relationship with Him, we’re increasingly able to live godly, morally excellent lives. It should be our aim to come close to Christ as our first matter of business, since everything else comes along on the basis of that.
As with any human-to-human relationship, we want to know the other person better and better. It is the same with knowing the Lord. We know that salvation — the act of believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior — is step number one. So we meet him. But we can’t sit there. We have to grow up in Christ, and that requires building a relationship. God is all about increase. So Peter, starting there in Second Peter chapter one verse three is talking about increase.

God’s given us promises, and we need to apply them.

God’s promises sit within the covenant relationship we have with him. In that relationship we make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to our lives. We do this through faith.
It’s important to understand there’s a cause and effect. We are responsible and God is responsible. Seeking God leads to knowing God better, which leads to an increasing focus on the things of God and His Kingdom. This results in good character and godly choices. Here’s how Peter lays it out:
  1. We apply Jesus promises in our lives by faith.
  2. Faith then produces a life of moral excellence.
  3. Moral excellence leads to knowing God more.
  4. Knowing God leads to self control.
  5. Self control leads to perseverance — the power to get through stuff.
  6. Perseverance results in godliness.
  7. Godliness results in love for others.
We mature in Christ not by default, but by concerted effort. We become increasingly productive for the Lord by seeking Him. The closer we are to the Lord, the less likely we are to fall away. Peter makes that very clear in verse 10.
Wouldn’t it be great to never stumble, and never be in danger of falling away? Well, that’s obviously possible, if we take God at his word. How is it possible? By applying Jesus’ promises through faith. That leads to a life of moral excellence, which leads to knowing God better, which leads to self-control, which leads to perseverance, which leads to godliness, which leads to caring about others. As we mature we become less selfish and more others-focused.
God’s desire is that we increase — that we increase in all things. He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness. The more we apply what he’s provided, the more we mature.
The result is that we live godly lives. We can handle money, run our businesses, relate to our customers and clients in a godly way.
And that becomes witness and testimony to our clients and customers who don’t know the Lord, because we act differently. We treat people differently. We come from a different point of view and a different approach. We use wisdom that is not of this world to gain the souls of this world.
God’s desire for us is that we increase (mature) and not shrivel up and fall away. He wants us to prosper in all things as our souls prosper (3 John 1.2).