Flipping the pyramid

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. ~ II Peter 1:5-7

Years ago, I made a list of "Mama's Rules" and posted it on my bathroom wall as a reminder of how I need to act throughout my busy...and often frustrating...days as a young mother. I have been working on the area of self-control in my life for about six years now, and it has been a very slow, uphill battle. When I read the above list, it seems like I started with faith; I added goodness; then knowledge; and finally, got stuck on the self-control tier. I was re-reading my list of "Rules" today, and thought about how far God has taken me in that battle over the past few months.

Then it struck me - we start everything out backwards in our culture! I assume that I am full of love because I "feel" love all the time - for my husband, my kids, my family, strangers, sick people, you name it, I "love" them! Yet how often do I show them brotherly kindness? How often godliness? How often do I persevere through difficulty in relationships? Is it really love I have after all, if these other traits are so lacking in my actions, words, and thoughts? The world would say yes, love is a feeling. Everything else follows love. But this verse indicates otherwise...love is the end result of a long string of choices, not a passive experience on which your own choices have little consequence.

I do feel as though God has recently completed a step in my transformation through Christ. Self-control is coming easier day by day, and now it is that perseverance step that I need to master. I go along for weeks without incident, and then quit persevering and oops! there I am wallowing in self-indulgence again...emotional, physical, mental, spiritual. I have new motivation today after my "light bulb moment". My end goal is not some lofty spiritual aim, nor mere pie-in-the-sky human goodness. My aim is love, true, deep love as evidenced by acts of brotherly kindness, godly character, perseverance in the face of adversity, self-control, knowledge, goodness and faith. Whether you're humanist or Christian - aiming for this list of traits will guarantee that your life and the lives of those around you are better, richer, more enjoyable.