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. 2 Peter 1:5-7
It’s often easy to identify the methamphetamine users in treatment by their smile – or lack thereof. Often, they’re self-conscious of smiling because meth use has caused their teeth to decay, crumble, and fall out. Referred to as meth mouth, it’s the natural result of methamphetamine smoking accompanied by absolute lack of routine dental care. In their drug use, the meth user follows his addiction above all, abandoning those behaviors that most people consider routine – like brushing teeth, flossing, and routine dental appointments.
The dental industry has done a good job of convincing us to develop daily habits to care for our teeth and gums. We brush. We floss. We go to regular preventative dentist appointments, all to keep our mouths healthy. This isn’t natural. It’s something our parents had to teach us and it’s something that must become habitual. The natural destiny for our teeth is much more like meth mouth. Left on our own as children, we wouldn’t care for our teeth. We’d eat sweets, we’d never brush, and by middle age, we’d lose all our teeth to rot and decay. Daily tooth and gum maintenance isn’t natural, but it is healthy.
Peter described a similar daily maintenance of our spiritual lives. Once we come to know Christ, we’re given access to his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature (1 Peter 1:4). But we’re not instantly made perfect when we become Christians. For the rest of our lives, we’re meant to continue growing. This isn’t natural though. Our nature is to continually develop bad habits, following our persistent self-destructive appetites. If we do nothing, we don’t find transformation and growth. Rather, we naturally get worse. Walking the Christian life is to daily battle our nature, spiritually growing, always becoming better than we were yesterday. Daily, we’re to make every effort to become more virtuous, self-controlled, wise, and loving. Following our way leads to decay. Following God leads to growth and maturity.
Daily, just as we have a habit of spending a few minutes brushing our teeth, we must purposefully and habitually build time into our routines for growing our spiritual lives. Daily we must read God’s word, ingesting it and meditating on it. Daily, we must pray, asking God what he wants us to work on – then we must do it. This isn’t natural, but if we want to be spiritually healthy, avoiding decay, we must continually strive to grow our faith.