When Peter penned his final words to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours,” he challenged his readers to grow (2 Peter 3:18). This sounds like great advice. We should, as believers, grow… in our service, discipline, giving, and many other areas associated with the faith of Christianity. But that’s not what Peter encouraged in this verse. He continued, “But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
With all the undone tasks, such as ministries that need laborers and funding of those ministries, why would Peter close his letter with a statement like this? Because grace-driven effort is the only effective fuel the believer has available. Grace fuels our actions.
So, what did Peter mean when he said, “Grow in grace?”
First, what is this grace that we are to grow in? It has been described as the unmerited favor, undeserved kindness, and unearned blessing given from one to another. For believers in Jesus Christ, it is God giving to us not because of what we do, but His giving to us in spite of what we’ve done (and do, and will do). God chose to be kind to us because of His love for us. It was a display of His infinite grace that sent Jesus to the cross for our sins.
Peter is equating, “growing in grace” with doing everything we do with the Cross of Christ clearly in our focus. A fellow believer once said it this way, “We do what we do because He did what He did.” We were not saved by grace to then earn God’s blessing by our labors. We labor because we are saved by grace, and that grace flows freely from the believer’s life to others.
A good example of this is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. In chapter eight, Paul is encouraging these believers to give to a certain people in need. While he could have commanded them to give, or even pierced their conscience by comparing their well-being with the Jerusalem Church’s poverty, Paul instead pointed them back to the grace they received through the gospel of Jesus Christ (8:9). His point being that people who have experienced God’s grace, and are living and growing in God’s grace, will want to display and extend that grace.
We grow in grace by continually remembering what Jesus did for us. We remember we were once slaves of sin (John 8:34), whose only future was wrath and judgement (Ephesians 5:6). We remember the riches of His grace!
“Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3