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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. – 2 Peter 1:5-7

Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love.

We started this journey with faith. We’re ending it with love. If faith is the foundation of the house, love is the open door, the welcome mat, and the smell of fresh baked cookies. It is the storm doors that keep the chaos out. It’s the AC unit out back that no one notices but everyone enjoys.

I think Peter fastened all these virtues together beautifully. I think we often begin with faith and are all too eager to skip ahead to loving anybody and everybody. Yes, love involves risk. But it also requires a thick skin sometimes.

If all Jesus had was faith alone, he would never have been able to forgive and sincerely love those who were nailing him to that cross.

Our walk with Christ is not a “just add water” kind of deal. It’s less like EasyMac and more like an all out Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a process. You can’t skip steps.

Granted, loving comes more naturally to some than it does others. There are those people you meet that have never met a stranger. They’re all smiles and hugs and laughs. And sometimes that just makes you sick. These people will strike up conversations in the line at Wal-Mart. They will go to the ends of the earth to meet a need.

But how much self-control do they have? When was the last time they said no? Or how much actual Bible knowledge do they have? Are they content to keep Scripture in the “personal devotional” category, never really dealing with the down and dirty parts of the Bible?

You see, we will almost always fault someone who has all sorts of head-knowledge but very little outward showing of love. Yet we are hesitant to fault those who have this love-thing down but don’t really know the Word of God.

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, then end of the great “Love Chapter,” that three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. Think about it. When we all get to heaven, our faith will finally become sight. But faith in what is seen is not really faith anymore. Faith will have served its purpose in full. It will have reached its “Sell By” date. It’s the same with hope. We will no longer need hope because we will have the very thing we were hoping for. Faith – fulfilled. Hope – fulfilled.

Love will live on forever. For where God is there is love.

But take a look around. Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

So while we are still on this earth, by all means let us LOVE! But let us not forget faith and hope.

This is not to be taken lightly:

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. – 2 Peter 1:8-9

Notice he does not say, “If you possess love in increasing measure.” He says, “these qualities.” All of them. All of these combined will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive. Stated positively, all of these qualities will allow you to be effective and productive.

By all means, let us love one another as Christ has loved us. Let us continue to love our neighbors as ourselves. But love without a foundation is like a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers. It looks pretty. It smells nice. It will make someone feel happy. But that beauty is fleeting. The colors quickly fade because they have been separated from their roots – the source of life for the flower.

For true love to be sustained, it must be built on the foundation of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and mutual affection.

And one final benefit to going through this process – it will give you assurance of life everlasting.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:10-11

What a promise!

Always remember that neither faith nor love, knowledge nor godliness, is an end in itself. All these qualities are but a means to an end – that glorious end in heaven (which is really just a whole new beginning).