"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. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1: 5-8
When I read these lines written by the apostle Peter to the churches, I wonder if there is any kind of hierarchy in the attributes. Does one lead to another? If we have faith, our belief in Christ should cause us to want to behave well personally and in relation to others. Some Christians, I believe, stop right there. They believe and do good. In the past, to their shame, some ministers of the gospel have deliberately tried to withhold the scriptures from out of the hands of their parishioners. We who have access to a vast resource of teaching materials and the ability to read them are extremely blessed, and there is no excuse not to increase our knowledge of the things of God.
As we know more of God, the more we are able to be wise and discerning when it comes to temptation - we are able to exercise self-control when we are tempted and we are more able to do this long term - to overcome and persevere. We understand what the process of sanctification entails - we earnestly desire to be more like Jesus, and can exhibit godliness, because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, revealing God's loving presence in our lives.
One of the fruits of the indwelling Holy Spirit is love - love to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and to those who do not know Him. In His great passage to the church on love, 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul reminds us that everything that we do must be done in love, or it is ineffective and worthless.
Of course, none of these attributes negates another. We want to have all these qualities in increasing measure. The interesting thing about the Christian life is that it should never be static. We want to learn more, to grow in relationship with God, and to be increasingly more effective in our ministries and witness to others, demonstrating the love with which, while we were still sinners, He first loved us.