Peter mentions seven attributes, in addition to faith, in which believers must constantly grow. Additionally, these qualities should not be pursued half-heartedly, casually, or nonchalantly. Their acquisition should not be in a passive manner. Instead, Peter says that believers are to make every effort. Their obtainment must be conducted with all diligence—an intense focus and energy.

I think sometimes believers wish these qualities were automatically given upon committing one’s life to Christ. I know that I do. I am pretty sure they would keep us out of trouble and from a lot of grief. However, while some of these attributes are gifted with certain measures and in different ways to different people, their fullness often is not given at the outset of one’s relationship with Christ. Instead, these qualities are developed and matured over time as one makes an effort.

These traits are not natural but rather supernatural. Furthermore, they aren’t easy. They aren’t “be nice,” “memorize a few verses,” or “let others go ahead of you in line.” They aren’t the rules we would find in a young child’s classroom. We cannot acquire them on our own, nor do we have the desire to. For it is God who desires them and wills them for us. But, like anything of value, they are not cheap. They require our sacrifice—a deliberate and high level of commitment. There is a cost to obtaining them. However, they are invaluable to our growth as believers.

We often believe that having faith is enough and that Christ will mature us in his time. However, Peter says otherwise. He tells us that we need to supplement, or add to, our faith—provide something in addition to that which already exists in us for the purpose of enhancing or completing it. Our pursuit of these characteristics is necessary to strengthen our faith. The richness of our faith will only increase to the level at which we add virtue, knowledge, self-control, and the others. Our faith grows when our understanding of God’s character deepens. Our faith matures when we develop self-control because we limit our reaction to a situation and seek God to respond in his timing. When someone wrongs us, and yet we respond with love, we build our faith upon our confidence that God is our rock—our strong tower and deliverer to whom we can run in times of need (Provers 18:10).

Finally, Peter tells us that pursuing these attributes is not a one-time or even an occasional occurrence. Instead, we are to be constantly striving for them. We are to take every opportunity to increase in these areas because of God’s promises that enable us to share in the divine nature and escape the world’s corruption (2 Peter 1:4). You see, there is a benefit to increasing our faith. It’s not so that we can merely possess a deep or awe-inspiring faith. Instead, it is so that we can fully experience God’s promises for us while we remain here. So, let us not sell ourselves short; let’s not take any shortcuts. But, rather, let us pursue these qualities with all our might—with every ounce of energy we can muster—and at all times.

Our lives as followers of Christ would perhaps be much simpler if these qualities were imparted to us immediately. The truth is, however, that they’re not—we must work on them with all our being. And, by God’s grace, by his help, we’ll get there.