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We invest in what we love. Take a quick second to think about that statement. It’s true isn’t it? If you love your job, you invest your energy and effort into doing excellent work. If you love the thought of retirement, at some point, you invest in a financial portfolio. If you love being healthy, you invest your energy and effort into eating right and working out. If you love your wife and children, you find the time to invest in them.

Peter, in his second epistle, expresses that those who know Jesus—those who have been saved and redeemed by King Jesus; those that know Him and have been given everything they need to live a godly life—are to “make every effort” to invest (to supplement) in growing in their faith. In other words, Peter, after having explained that God has done all the heavy lifting to give us what we need for living a godly life, turns to explain how believers are to be active in their sanctification—the process by which God molds and conforms His people into the image of Jesus.

Without going into detail on the specific areas (which you can do by listening to a recent message of mine) Peter mentions, I want to spend just a few moments addressing four principles of investing in our sanctification.

First, our investment is PERSONAL. Investing in sanctification is something we “get” to do rather than something we “have” to do. Or, put another way: it is something we should “want” to do rather than “have” to do. Growing in our faith and relationship with Christ is personal. Because of His unwavering and unconditional love for us, and our growing love for Him, growth in that relationship should be seen as a privilege and honor, not some burden.

If you see following Jesus as more of a burden than blessing, it may be that your view of following Him is more mechanical, ritualistic, and religious rather than personal and relational.

Second, our investment is INTENTIONAL. Investment, regardless of what area of life it’s in, is intentional. Someone investing their time coaching a little league team is intentional. Someone investing their money in a money-market or 401K is intentional. A husband investing time in planning date nights with his wife is intentional. The same is true with regard to sanctification. We have to be intentional.

Being intentional requires planned and deliberate action to exert energy and effort into cultivating our relationship with Christ.

If someone wants to lose weight and they go out and buy a treadmill but never intentionally use it, they won’t lose weight. In a similar manner, if someone follows Christ but never spends any time with Him (reading, praying, and seeking Him) or His people (gathering corporately, meeting with other believers), then that person hasn’t been intentional and therefore is unlikely to grow.

Third, our investment is GRADUAL. Just as it takes time for a financial portfolio to increase and grow, it takes time for us to grow in Christlikeness. We don’t go from zero to hero overnight. That’s why we refer to sanctification as a process! As we personally and intentionally invest, we see gradual growth. Here’s a sobering truth that hopefully makes you and me take a deep breath: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE PERFECT! You are going to fail; you are going to drop the ball. You are going to miss the mark. But, in the process of sanctification, understand that you fail forward—knowing that every step (and misstep) along the way God is molding you and shaping you into the image of Jesus. In other words, He is working all things out together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Sure there will be days you echo the Apostle Paul, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

In the gradual process of becoming like Christ, it’s important to remember that there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1), and that the same grace that saved you is the same grace that sustains and sanctifies you!

Fourth, our investment is SYNCHRONIC. Although Peter’s list seems sequential—add to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, etc.—it’s more synchronic. It’s synchronic because the Christian life isn’t about a checklist. For instance, it’s not like I master virtue and then move on to knowledge. The characteristics and qualities that Peter lists are all areas in which we are to grow simultaneously and synchronically. They are all interconnected. However, the last characteristic that Peter lists is love. And, like I alluded to earlier, it is love that drives all the others. It is Christ’s love for us, and our [growing] love for Christ that compels us to grow in virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly affection.

So, how’s your investment? Are you investing in your sanctification? Are you working out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12)? Don’t misunderstand, I didn’t ask you if you’re working FOR your salvation? But, are you working out, working in LIGHT of your salvation. Are you taking the life that has been imparted and imputed to you and cultivating it through the practice of spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible reading, silence and solitude, corporate worship, accountability, etc.?

In conclusion, to help take spiritual inventory on how your investment in sanctification is going, here’s a list of ten questions I borrowed and adapted from Donald Whitney’s, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health. As you read through them, be honest with where you think you are.

1. Do you thirst for God?

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never

2. Do you strive to govern your life according to God’s word?

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never

3. Are you sensitive to what God may be doing in and around you? In other words, are you contemplative or reactive to what happens to you or around you? Do you immediately start complaining when things don’t go your way, or do you pause and ask God what are you doing? What do you want me to do? What are you teaching me?

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never

4. Are you a loving person?

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never

5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual, temporal, and physical needs of others?

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never

6. Do you delight in, and are you devoted to, the bride of Christ?

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never

7. When is the last time you exercised in the following spiritual disciplines?

  • Prayer
  • Bible Reading
  • Corporate Worship
  • Evangelism (Had a gospel conversation with someone)
  • Served others
  • Stewardship (giving)
  • Fasted (you went without food or device in order to seek God’s direction and will)                                                            
  • Do you express a godly sorrow over your sin

8. Do you express a godly sorrow over your sin?

                            Always                  Often                           Seldom                         Never

9. Are you a person who holds grudges or extends grace? 

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never

10. Do you strive to live here on earth as if you were living there in heaven?

Always                  Often                           Seldom                        Never