No mortgage and no marriage? Though statistics and demographics seem clearly to indicate that American young adults are putting off “growing up” in favor of some kind of extended adolescence, nobody likes to hear that they’re stuck in some state of immaturity. Truth is, we all get stuck from time to time.
Second Peter 3:18 instructs believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” If we’re stuck, we need to get unstuck. But how do we do that?
To grow in grace does not mean the same thing as searching for more grace – quantitatively – because somehow our supply has run low. The problem is not that our grace-tank is empty, as God’s grace is infinite by nature. Has He who saved us by grace left us with minimal supply? Hardly! He has given us infinite grace. That’s the nature of God’s grace.
It seems to me, then, that to “grow in grace” is to grow in our awareness and application of what Christ has done for us – as well as to grow in our appreciation for the amazing grace which we have so lavishly received. It’s one of the many reasons why we need each other as the body of Christ. We build each other up in truth. We encourage each other. We love each other through the storms and trials of life.
How are you doing in all three?
Awareness. Do you notice, regularly, the goodness of God? Do you thank Him for your eyesight, your daily bread, and your best friend? What I mean is: do you thank Him for the blessings which are easy to overlook?
Application. Do you overlook offenses against you, preferring to pray for your offender instead of setting them straight? Do you choose to forgive instead of choosing to hold a grudge? Do you choose to trust the Lord – stepping out in faith instead of demanding that He show you the detailed plan in advance (a demand which most often translates into a paralysis of zero progress while we “wait” on something that isn’t coming)? On a regular basis, do you preach the gospel to yourself?
Appreciation. Do you remember Christ’s Cross with affection? Do you praise God even when you’re afraid? Do you worship Him even when you’d rather be checking off the items on your daily “to do” list?
I would submit to you that these three areas of growth will lead to a fourth: agreement. When we’re full of the knowledge of God’s grace (which we internalize most effectively by poring over God’s Word), then we’re in the very best position to agree with God about who He is – and about who we are (in light of who He is). That’s where real spiritual maturity begins to bear good fruit in our lives.
The famed English preacher Frederick W. Robertson summarized it like this: “It is not the number of books you read, nor the variety of sermons you hear, nor the amount of religious conversation in which you mix, but it is the frequency and earnestness with which you meditate on these things till the truth in them becomes your own and part of your being, that ensures your growth.”
But perhaps Jeremiah captured God’s heart best when he said this (9:24): “Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord.”
Here’s to your growth in grace, and mine,