Friday, August 23, 2013

Growing in Grace

                One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in 2 Peter. I can relate to Peter in so many ways. I have a tendency to dive in head first, just like he did when he jumped out of the boat and ran to the shore to meet Jesus; and I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth, just like Peter did. But Peter had something that I desire, he had a passion for Jesus that was intense- and I too want that same passionate intensity in my relationship with my Savior. Peter writes to his readers that they are to “beware lest they fall from {their} own steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:17) and then he goes on to encourage us, and them to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
                This verse is one of my favorites, because every time I read it I am encouraged to keep on keeping on. I am encouraged to keep pressing in, to keep persevering. God does not desire us to be stagnant Christians, He desires for us to grow, to keep growing until the day we are before Him- complete and perfect in His eyes. We are a constant work in progress- but that work requires you and me to be willing to be worked.
                Peter says that we are to “grow in grace”. He doesn’t say that grace grows in us, but that we are to grow in that grace. The word “grow” means to increase. It means that we are to increase in our Christian faith, in our hopes, and our knowledge of Jesus Christ. Our goal should be to know Jesus more. If we make knowing Jesus more our goal in life than we will grow in the grace that God desires us to.

                Grace is not just a word that tells us our sins are forgiven and we can go and sin it up some more tomorrow. Grace is “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon our souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection and kindles them to exercise Christian values.” (Greek/ Hebrew Lexicon, Blue Letter Bible) It was because of Grace that you are a Christian. Jesus looked upon you and said, “You are worth it, and you will always be worth it.” Grace is the kindness of God bestowed upon us who do not deserve it.
                Grace is infinite, we cannot outgrow it. God has given grace, we are floating in an ocean of grace, and it is up to us to grow while we are here. Charles Spurgeon writes, “in order that they might know how to stand, and to be preserved from falling, he gave them this direction; ‘grow in grace’; for the way to stand is to grow; the way to be steadfast is to go forward. There is no standing except by progression.” We must grow, we must not become stagnant-otherwise we begin to stink.
                “Grace is not merely the way God draws us to Him in the beginning. It is also the way we grow and stay in our own steadfastness. We can never grow apart from the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and we never grow out of it.” (David Guziak, Blue Letter Bible, commentary on 2 Peter 3:18) How then do we grow in this sea of grace? How do we grow in the knowledge of the favor of God which we have been given? We will never be worthy of this grace, so how then can we grow in it?

                It is through the knowledge and the willingness to spend time with Jesus and to study His word. If you want to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus, then the way to do that is to study and to spend time with Him. Growing in grace is a desire to know Jesus in an intimate and personal relationship. Grace is the match that God uses to light the fires of passion for Him within our hearts. We are as close to Jesus as we choose to be.
                I heard a sister say the other evening that if we spent the same amount of time talking with our husbands as we do with Jesus, what would our marriages look like? If you want a happy marriage, you spend time together and communicate often. If you want a relationship with Jesus, an intimate, personal relationship, the same principles apply. If you want to have a deeper walk with Jesus, then you must be willing to grow in grace, you must be willing to grow in your knowledge of Him and you must be willing to take the time necessary to make the growth possible.
                God expects us to grow. You do not plant a tomato bush and not expect it to grow and bear fruit. No, you plant it, feed it, water it and expect to see some ripe juicy tomatoes from it. God desires us to grow and the only way we can grow is by spending time with Him, in His word each and every day. The amount of growth depends on you. If you want to grow you will make time with Him and for Him; if you don’t want to grow then you won’t. God is not a magician; He won’t wave His magic wand and make you a mature Christian, no matter how much you beg Him to. He leaves the growth part up to you. He gives you grace, He even gives you the flotation device but you have to do the growing part.

                We are as close to Jesus as we choose to be. Do you desire more passion in your walk? Do you desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? If your answer is yes, then make the time and feed your soul in His grace. When it comes to growing in this sea of grace my sisters, the oar is in your hand- so row!