A 1972 study known as the “marshmallow test” was developed to gauge children’s ability to delay gratification of their desires. The kids were offered a single marshmallow to enjoy but were told if they could refrain from eating it for ten minutes, they’d be given a second one. About a third of the children were able to hold out for the larger reward (another third gobbled it up within thirty seconds!).
We might struggle to show self-control when offered something we desire, even if we know it would benefit us more in the future to wait. Yet Peter urges us to “add to [our] faith” many important virtues, including self-control (2 Peter 1:5–6). Having laid hold of faith in Jesus, Peter encourages his readers—and us—to continue to grow in goodness, knowledge, perseverance, godliness, affection, and love “in increasing measure” as evidence of that faith (v. 8).
While these virtues don’t earn us God’s favor nor secure our place in heaven, they demonstrate—to ourselves as well as to all those with whom we interact—our need to exercise self-control as God provides the wisdom and strength to do so. And, best of all, He’s “given us everything we need [to live] a godly life,” one that pleases Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 3).