GIG #1 - The Opening Gun
"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (2 Peter 3:17-18 - New American Standard Bible - emphasis mine).
As a group activity our youth all planted a flower in a small pot. For several weeks we cared for those little flowers, with the exception of a few teens who were not so diligent in their attendance to youth group and a few who were diligent in attendance, but careless in tending to their plant. After several weeks one teen lamented over the fact that their plant had sprouted and then died. I said, "It's your own fault." To wit the teen replied, "It's not my fault! I can't make something grow!" I said, "You're right; that's God's business. What I do know is that you didn't do your part. He left you to tend the plant."
That sounds like the beginning of a stewardship lesson; rightly so, because in a way it is. God intends to grow each of us in our faith and a good portion of the work is up to Him; I believe He desires we do our part.
I am not talking about becoming more secure, more pardoned, more saved...all of those things are complete the moment we surrender fully to Jesus, for "in Him you have been made complete" (ref: Colossians 2:10). With equal strength I am not talking about sitting around waiting for God to drop a new bucket of grace on our heads as if we can do nothing to participate with Him in the work of growth. Let me be clear...what I am talking about is best described by Dr. J. C. Ryle who said, "When I speak of a man 'growing in grace' I mean simply this,--that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritual-mindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart. He manifests more of it in his life" (Holiness, page 122).
Growth in grace is a real thing: Peter said some are "babes" (2 Peter 2) and John said some are "little children", some are "young men", and some are "fathers" (1 John 2). We know growth is what God wants; our Lord Jesus said, "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (John 15:8 - NASB - emphasis mine). As a tree cannot bear fruit without grow neither can the child of God. Not only does God desire we grow, but He "delights" in our progress (ref: Psalm 35:27).
The point of today is simple; God desires growth, expects growth and will empower growth in His children. We not MUST NOT get in His way of growing us but MUST ALSO desire that we indeed do grow in grace. Do you desire growth? Are you the type of Christian who puts on his faith like he does his Sunday clothes...once a week? Carefully notice the words of Peter above he commands, and as it is in God's holy word I believe God commands, that we indeed do GROW IN GRACE.
In the coming days we will look at some measuring marks of growth and also at ways that we can grow.
Let me close with this warning by way of an illustration about a little boy. This certain boy fell out of bed every night. His parents put a guard at the edge of the bed; he still managed to fall out. His parents strapped him to the bed; he still found some way to fall out. When a family member asked the little boy why he thought he fell out each night his theory was simple: "I guess I sleep to close to where I got in." The warning is simple, if we don't move away from the edge of our faith by GROWING IN GRACE we will continue to slip and fall. Growth does not mean we will never slip, but it does mean the likelihood decreases and it does mean the severity of the fall is made less.Yes, God is in charge of growth, but He expects us to cooperate with Him in the tending of the plant that is our life. We are stewards of the fields of our minds, hearts, and hands. Have you been a good garden helper?