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. ~ 2 Peter 1:5 (NLT)
A friend of mine, who is a little more seasoned in age than I am, loves to play jokes on his wife from time to time. One night, as she walking in front of the car, the car alarm suddenly went off. She levitated about 20 feet in the air (I may be exaggerating that a little bit) and shrieked. She looked over at her husband and saw the giant grin on his face. She then knew the truth. He had set the alarm off on purpose to get her to freak out. In her moment of embarrassment, she waved her finger at her husband and yelled at him, “Oh, grow up!”
Often times in our lives, each of us have probably heard something like this spoken over us by a parent or family member. Though the words might not be “grow up,” the one most often used is behave. You see, from an early age, there are certain social and cultural rules that we are expected to know and keep. For example: While burping out loud following a meal is a compliment in some cultures, it’s generally frowned upon in others.
When it comes to our faith journey, we often times hear people tell us to behave, as well. Keep the Sabbath a certain way, or veganism is the only true way to live as a Christian. Of course, these are the norm in some households and not others. So, we end up with fights in the church over what is proper behavior for a person. Unfortunately, these fights have caused countless individuals to either leave the church or refuse to be a part of it.
The apostle Paul, who knew a thing or two about church fights, wrote some advice about what the focus must be in our faith journey, “Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge.” Since Jesus is our example of morality, and our source of faith, the focus must be on a relationship with Him. Notice that our faith comes before morality. In other words, if we’re focusing on behavior and not a relationship, we’re doing this wrong. We must be connected with Jesus as our best friend, Lord, and Savior first. Then, through His power, let Him teach us how to behave. Otherwise, we’re learning a religion of behavior modification, not of a risen Savior.