In one way or another, many of you ask us, "How can I tell if I'm doing this whole fatherhood thing well or not?" In reviewing 2 Peter 1:5-7, I'm reminded that Scripture speaks. In this verse, it's about love and growth in the Christian life. Wait, that sounds boring. Let me try again. Second Peter 1:5-7 covers, "You say you're a Christian, now what?"
Many of you would say your Christian dads. Well, now what? This passage has a lot to say about the "now what" to us as dads. Let's dig in.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. —2 Peter 1:5-7 (CSB)
I write a lot about biblical fatherhood. Let me be clear: the goal of biblical fatherhood is to lead your kids biblically. I don't think this will happen without being diligent in becoming more Christlike. Are you perfect? Nope. Will you ever be perfect? Nope. But are you making every effort? Ah, you should be! Anyone should be able to look at your life and see an earnestness—a zeal—to your life. Do they? Keep reading.
In 2 Peter, we see that growth as a Christian isn't something to treat lightly. If God is using His Word to tell me anything recently, it's this: God is in control—I'm not. And, my goal shouldn't be to sit back and wait for heaven. That isn't diligence. My goal should be to rest in Him and give up myself daily for Him. It's more than thought or insight. It's action.
Here's my best example. Let's say you want to lose weight. Okay, great. What should you do? Just think about weight loss? NO! Think about weight loss all you want—you won't lose a single pound. Trust me, I've tried this method. Until you determine to DO SOMETHING—you won't lose weight. One of my biblical counseling professors said of this passage we're about to cover, "It's not enough to say you love Jesus—DO SOMETHING! Add diligence!"
Which brings me back to these eight (8) checkpoints. Most of you reading this would say you're a Christian. Great, now what? What does knowing God change in your life? Anything? I think it should. Knowing God should change your heart.
It is said that a godly character doesn't come from passivity. Martin Luther's Commentary on Peter and Jude, writing about this verse, says, "They should prove their faith by their good works." Review this list and let these 8 character qualities serve as checkpoints for how well (or not) you're doing at the Christian life—and dare I say—biblical fatherhood:
It is a must that you rely on Jesus. There is an implied commitment to start this journey. Do you know him? Have you confessed with your mouth and believed in your heart that Christ is Lord? Awesome, this isn't the end. You're just getting started. This is number one for a reason!
Goodness, excellence of character, notice these are words which describe Christ. Other translations use "virtue" here. What is virtue? The dictionary definition is "behavior showing high moral standards." Interesting huh? If we break it down so far, the order is basically: #1 Know Christ. #2 Act like it.
Slow down here. This isn't just learning about about bunch of stuff. This is the ability to discern God's will and organize your life to that will. It's the idea of biblical wisdom. This starts with knowing the Bible, sure.
But understand, the Pharisees knew the Bible. Knowing of God is not the point. Knowing God is the point. When we know Him, we apply His Word to daily living. Our actions change. Our minds are renewed. Our motivations change. Which leads us to...
Also called temperance or self-discipline. This is the ability to not indulge in physical desires to excess. One professor explained to me, you have to practice the ability to say no.
For example, maybe drinking a coke isn't gonna kill you for one day. But, it may be worth, when you find yourself wanting it, to not have it—just to practice self-control. Self-control is a muscle. Work it or it atrophies. Test yourself. When's the last time you said no to yourself—even if the thing wasn't that bad? My fear here is that we simply don't know what self-control is when it comes to so many things.
Other words for this are patience, perseverance and steadfastness. This is the ability to stick with something. To remain. Without perseverance, you'll fail at pretty much anything. Here's the deal. You have faith, goodness, knowledge and self-control? Great, keep doing those things. Keep doing the faith. Keep doing goodness. My grammar is intentional here—for once.
Don't make this rocket science. Godliness is the act of living like Jesus. Being like Christ in attitude and in actions. I could go on here, but I'll practice self control.
This is also called "brotherly kindness". The idea here is love expressed among fellow Christians that is like affection for family.
Love is the culmination of all of the above character qualities. Love makes all of these character checks what they should be. Love is the sum of all the other virtues. It is said that, "Anyone who loves will possess the other qualities Peter mentioned." In Peter's day, the false teachers were lacking in faith and love, so they were not believers.
Review this list. Odds are good, if you're reading this, the world would say you're a good dad. You might even call yourself a Christian. But, can you honestly say you're diligent to pursue these characteristics? Are you growing in them? What would your wife and kids say?
The issue here is not one of having these character qualities or not having them, the issue is one of growing in the degree to which we exhibit them. Let them serve as checkpoints for you. No condemnation here—just encouragement. If you pursue these eight things daily, odds are good you will not be failing at biblical fatherhood.