Although this phrase is nowhere found in the Bible, when one grows up hearing things over and over, one tends to accept them without question. Before teaching that lesson I decided to check a dictionary. Imagine my surprise to discover that use of the word “grace” meant “an embellishment, adornment, enhancement, or garnish.” In other words, graces are something not essential to the entity in question, but which make it more attractive. Like that parsley next to your steak dinner at a restaurant—it just makes the plate pretty. The steak is still a steak without it. Are we still Christians without these characteristics? Is that what we want these children to believe about Christianity?
Even my fifth-graders were able to pick out these phrases in the context of the list: they make you to be not idle or unfruitful, v 8; he who lacks these things is blind, v 9; if you do these…you shall never stumble, v 10; thus you shall be richly supplied…the entrance into the eternal kingdom, v 11.
And the traits which do this? Virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love. Can one be a Christian without loving others? Without controlling himself? Without persevering to the end?
Maybe some of us treat these things like parsley on our plates of Christianity, but my fifth-graders decided that we should call them “the requirements of being a Christian.” I think they are right. Truly, out of the mouths of babes…
Yes and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue, and in your virtue knowledge, and in your knowledge self-control, and in your self-control perseverance, and in your perseverance godliness, and in your godliness brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle or unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things, you shall never stumble, for these shall be richly supplied unto the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11.