Peter in the Bible describes eight attributes that I have come to think of as eight stages of our journey into unity with Source.
The Bible text reads:
“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, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” 2Peter, 1:5-8
Starting with “faith,” each attribute defines a different stage of our union with Source/God/Reality. Each one builds upon the stage that preceded it and each stage is an essential part of our progress on the road to Source/God/Reality. To have faith means to trust that there is one True Source and that we are part of a Universal plan. “Faith,” as the First Stage, means we choose to believe in a God/Source/Reality that is benevolent and that life is working for us.
The Second Stage is “goodness.” Being a “good person” is the natural result of having faith in a loving, benevolent Source. When we believe in a loving Source/God/Reality we automatically align with it through “acts of goodness.” We see ourselves as “made in Its image.”
The Third Stage on our spiritual journey to unity with Source is “knowledge.” Knowledge comes with, and from, experience. Through our “practice of faith” and “acts of goodness,” we find evidence that we are indeed guided and provided for by the One Universal Source. Such experience verifies the reality of Source/God/Reality causing our faith to become an inner state of “knowing.”
The Fourth Stage is what Peter calls “self-control,” also referred to as “self-discipline.” True self discipline is born out of motivation, not out of a sense of duty, obligation or fear. When we know Source/God/Reality is real, we become strongly motivated to develop habits that will align us more firmly with it. What looks like self-discipline” is actually the strong desire to unite with Source/God/Reality.
The Fifth Stage, “perseverance” is also the result of strong desire. “Perseverance” is fueled by our longing for Source/God/Reality, so that we become tenacious in the pursuit of oneness with It. We know our relationship with Source/God/Reality to be the only thing ultimately that matters.
The Sixth Stage is a tricky one. It is called “godliness,” because it results from having achieved some degree of “holiness” due to our spiritual process.” We may become highly susceptible, at this stage of our spiritual evolution, to an ego who wants to take credit for the wonders we are experiencing. “Godliness” is a two edged sword because the very “signs of power” we start to exhibit due to our progress on the road to Union also becomes a source of temptation. Ego is easily distracted by power and glamor and then wants to assume that it is in charge. Humility is essential as a counter-balance to “godliness” so that we don't end up getting sidetracked by an ego in search of personal glory.
The Seventh Stage results naturally as we achieve humility in our godliness. Peter referred to it as, “brotherly (sisterly) kindness.” Such kindness comes out of the compassion we experience when we realize the oneness we share with all of humanity. At this stage, we have come to understand that the best way to stay connected with Source /God/Reality is through service to others. We see that serving others is not only kind to them but is also of utmost kindness and benefit to ourselves, as well.
The Eighth Stage on the path of our spiritual unfolding is called “Love,” because love is what we essentially are. It is the word that most closely defines the indescribable experience of being completely enfolded in the arms of Source/God/Reality. When we are one with that One Source/God/Reality, we not only emanate love, we have become it.
All eight stages of our spiritual journey unfold within and through us naturally once we open to faith.
Chose to believe in a loving Source/God/Reality and there will come a time when your faith will become knowing and love will prevail.