Posted On May 2, 2017

Grow. (The Command to Ever Expanding Joy)

by | May 2, 2017 | The Gospel and the Christian Life, Featured

“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.” – 2 Peter 3:18

Grow In Grace

Grow. Here is a command, from the apostle Peter himself, to grow spiritually.

A command to grow? Does that seem strange? Unfair even? Isn’t growth something that is entirely outside of our control or ability to influence? After all, Jesus himself said, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?”[1] I would not try to tell my son how tall he should be, so why would God tell me to grow?

The fact that Peter commands us to grow spiritually, though, tells us that spiritual growth is not like increasing our physical stature by our own willpower. We often act like it is, don’t we? We look at mature, godly Christians around us and think to ourselves, “I could just never be like her. God obviously made her a spiritual redwood or oak tree, and I am more like a spiritual dogwood. I could never reach as high, or grow as close to heaven, as she has.”

While these may at first seem like modest words from a humble heart, the reality is it can become an excuse for stunted spiritual lives. Our mindset becomes like a teenage boy who once dreamt of being a professional basketball player but discovers his growth spurts have not yet taken him beyond 5’2’’—we feel like there is nothing we can do about it, or hope that time alone will take care of it. Or we may even put it into theological terms and think God will give us as much growth as he wants us to have and we will just have to be content with it.

Peter’s command, however, cuts through every mental excuse or misplaced modesty regarding our spiritual condition: “Grow.” We are not born—or born again—with a certain “spiritual DNA” that dooms us to dwarfed Christian lives no matter what we do. Spiritual growth is expected of every Christian believer, no matter what your background is and no matter how recently (or long ago) you may have become a Christian.

Grow In Grace

Yet this is not Peter the drill sergeant, telling us to drop down and give him 20 more pushups no matter how tired we are or how weak we feel. These are Peter’s parting words to persecuted Christians, pointing them to the one great pursuit that makes even torture and death worth it! It is a command to the ever-expanding joy of knowing Jesus better, by God’s grace, every day of our lives—no matter what. It is a command to grace, to trusting in Jesus for what only Jesus can do.

Further, this is a call to here-and-now worship. Yes, heaven will be wonderful and, yes, we who are redeemed by Christ will praise him forever there. But are you enjoying Jesus right now? Peter is calling us to worship (a joy, not a task!) our Savior now and forever.

If we have not yet seen Jesus as being worth all we have, Peter says we have a knowledge deficiency. He prays that we will grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Because when we see Jesus properly—when the eyelids of our ignorance are lifted to behold the beauty of his person—then we will not be able to take our eyes off him.

May Jesus be the great ground, Peter says to Christian believers, of all your rejoicing, your decision-making, your ambitions, your pleasure, your peace, your security, your love, your lifestyle. This is a joy that is ever increasing and can never be taken away from you. This is God’s grace, growing you.

Our Motivation

More is at stake here, however, than just our own pleasure. Peter reminds us that our growth in God’s grace through Jesus Christ, and finding our now-and-forever satisfaction in him, is precisely how Jesus is glorified through our lives. Our growth in grace is so that to him be the glory.

Our ability to glorify Jesus Christ is what is at stake! Through our own spiritual growth, and in our personal knowledge and valuing of Christ, Peter insists we glorify Jesus.

Think about it. If Christians preach around the globe that Jesus is the greatest gift God has ever given mankind, but then spend most of our time and energy and money in pursuit of the same pleasures that the rest of the world values—what does that say about Jesus? What does that say about the sufficiency of God in Christ? It is like a husband who says he loves his wife and thinks she is the greatest thing in his life, but then stares shamelessly at other women and even seeks to woo them into a relationship with him. The life belies the profession.

Do you, by your life and priorities and calendar and checkbook, lift up Christ as the one great satisfaction to be found in the universe? Do you continually sell all that you have in order to purchase more of this Treasure? Or is Christ simply a trinket among other baubles, a good-luck charm to hang around your neck, a joy among many joys? Are you growing in grace?

God’s Means

Being commanded to grow spiritually—for our own joy and the glory of Jesus—we can rest assured God has provided the means we will need for this worthy pursuit.

We have probably all experienced sudden moments of closeness with God, or spiritual joy, when we were not even looking for it. You argued with your spouse and yelled at your kids all the way to church, but then God blessed you with a conversation or a message that was exactly what you needed anyway. Yet God’s ordinary, prescribed means of drawing close to him is not simply sitting around waiting for the next epiphany or spiritual ecstasy to “happen”. We are to apply ourselves to some simple, biblical principles that God promises will lead to spiritual growth. As we do so, we will find a joy that losing our job or getting old cannot take away; we will discover an increasing pleasure that nothing else can equal or even compete with.

Peter’s exhortation to “grow in grace” is a command to spiritual enlargement, to ever-expanding joy in Jesus. Knowing, then, that spiritual growth—unlike physical stature—is not something we are simply to wait for or expect God to do for us, let us dedicate ourselves to growth! Let us commit to the consistent, determined, sometimes-difficult effort of immersing ourselves in the means God has given us to grow—so that “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” is glorified in us, “both now and to the day of eternity.” There is no greater pleasure to be found anywhere.

This is an excerpt from Justin’s new book Grow: The Command To Ever Expanding Joy, from Day One publications. Copies can be purchased in the U.S. through Amazon or Christian Book Distributors.

[1] Matthew 6:27, KJV

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