Once upon a time there was a pig who was eating his fill of acorns under an oak tree. Then he started to root around the tree. When warned that his digging would kill the tree, he answered, “Let it die. Who cares as long as there are acorns?”
The pig was short-sighted. And foolish. Had he taken the longer view, he would have realized that killing the tree would eventually end his feast of acorns and he would starve.
Not unlike the pig, there is the human tendency to look only at the moment and not see what’s down the road. The Apostle Peter speaks of such persons as spiritually “blind or shortsighted”:
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, 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 qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (2 Pet. 1:5-9 New American Standard Bible, NASB.)
Peter wanted his readers to know how important it is to keep moving forward in the knowledge of Christ by looking forward to the precious promises of the future. Verse 4 states,
For by these [ “everything pertaining to life, and godliness…” vs. 3 ] he has granted to us his precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
The apostle is reminding believers that taking the long view—that is, living for the day when Jesus returns to give all the faithful “the divine nature,” when they are changed to receive immortality like Jesus (1 John 3:2) —is far more productive than merely living for what you can get now. In other words, the reason we choose to grow in Christ is not for the “acorns” that can only bring us temporary pleasure for this is “useless” and “unfruitful,” (vs. 8). Instead, we are urged to make sure we take care of the whole “tree” that produces the fruit of salvation in God’s eternal kingdom. For as Peter went on to say, “For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you,” (vs. 11).
The long view means that while we are expecting Christ to return to bring an end to all the misery and difficulties we face in the present, mortal life, we are careful to grow in faith, seek the truth, and serve the Lord out of love and loyalty to him. That’s what Peter’s list of Christian graces is all about: Faith, moral excellence (virtue), knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love. These are the “qualities” we pursue as we depend upon God’s Spirit through Christ to fill us each day (Galatians 5:22-23).
These qualities are important because if we stop striving to grow in them then we’re only living for this present life. And the sad result will be “the works of the flesh” which will only end in disaster for, “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” (see Galatians 5:16-21). Living only for the “the works of the flesh” in this present life is a sure-fire way to kill the tree that produces any hope of receiving eternal life in God’s wonderful kingdom.
The long view leads to a better attitude, a better choice, and a better hope for the future. The fact that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, transforms our lives, and gives us something to live for that no one else can give, is why we can enjoy these better things. In addition, by taking the long view, we will not forget how we’ve been saved from our sins through him (2 Pet. 1:9). Like the Apostle Paul, we “press on” toward the goal of a higher, better reward than anything we’ll ever achieve or receive now (Philippians 3:14-16). We never want to be sidetracked with our fill of acorns without taking that longer view.
We can’t take the long view if we don’t give our lives completely over to Jesus and ask him to change us. Here’s a song that speaks to this very truth: http://youtu.be/8m8Ivi4Gu-I
Good News to YOU!