But when it comes to following Christ, the Apostle Peter reveals that doing heroic deeds is but the natural next step as we build on our faith.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 2:3-10)
According to John MacArthur, the Greek word translated virtue here has its origins in the Greek word transliterated arete which alluded to those acts of excellence worthy of the gods. To visualize the first step we are to take after we believe, Peter calls on the humanistic ideal of men and women with divine ancestry acting in ways that mere mortals cannot or would not.
Thus, we can safely speak of such deeds as being god-like. Or better yet — heroic, the stuff from which myths and legends spring as people recount the mighty deeds. I suppose such a call to moral excellence should not surprise us as God’s “divine power has granted to us all things….” Yet so often we fail to act on our faith to pursue such heroic deeds. But the very first thing that Peter calls us to add to our our belief and trust in Christ is a lifestyle of virtue, of doing things of such moral excellence that they remind onlookers of the divine.
“But I’m Not a Hero!”
Think heroic stuff isn’t for you? Think again as you read the words of David:
For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God–his way is perfect;the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?– the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. (Psalm 18:27-24)
Leaping over walls, overcoming against impossible odds, using weapons beyond the boundaries of human strength — sounds like heroic stuff to me.
I’m not saying that followers of Christ should start sporting capes, slapping on spandex, or concocting clever pseudonyms to conceal their true identities. I suspect we’d see a few videos going viral if we took that approach. What I am saying is that Jesus called us to be heroes when he said, “With God all things are possible” and “[W]hoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
Yet we often fail to grasp and act on the power of God at work within us. As the venerable E.M. Bounds put it, “God is more ready, willing, and anxious to give the answer than man is to give the asking.” More specifically, we fail to live out what we say we believe when it comes to being generous because we really don’t believe it can be done — or that God will do it. We know what Scripture tells us: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Eccl. 11:1) But will we?
What Being A Hero Might Look Like
Perhaps we sense the Spirit urging us to simplify our lifestyle, but we really don’t believe that “there is great gain in godliness with contentment.” Maybe we’re prompted to give the last dollar in our wallet to someone in need. That’s either crazy — or heroic, depending on whether or not you believe God will do what He’s promised to do.
What are you attempting for God in the area of generosity that might pass this hero test? Where are you giving God the opportunity to show His power through your humble but God-like actions?
Nothing come to mind? Check out this Living Generously trailer for some inspiration. And consider how God might use it in your own family, small group, or church to stir you and those around you to add to your faith something truly heroic.
Show yourself to be a hero for Christ. Live generously. And leave the cape in the closet where it belongs.