Yesterday's blog was about prayer need #1 from our prayer list. Today we'll look at need #2:
Growth in Christ (2 Peter 3:18):
18 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.
What are we considering in this request? We're addressing general maturity in Christ. Another word for this is discipleship, the practice of being a disciple of Christ.
Why? Because it's a necessity. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of entering the Kingdom as being "born again" or "born from above" in John 3. I doubt that He chose the example poorly! Rather, I think His point should be taken not only about the entrance, but the growth process. Just as we expect newborn babies to eventually walk, talk, and be potty-trained, so newborn Christians should be reasonably expected to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.
How so? First, to grow in grace: grace, as Peter uses it here, I think refers to our treatment of others. As we follow Christ longer, we should be growing in our ability to treat others as Christ would treat them. We should be more patient, more encouraging, and more gracious to them. We should be more forgiving to those around us.
In all, growing in grace is growing in the ability to treat others as God has treated us through Jesus Christ. Think that might need some prayer from others to help us get through it? We grow in grace ourselves by praying others will grow in grace, and we grow as others pray for us. Why? Because prayer asks God to work, and when God works, there's precious little that stops Him!
Second, to grow in knowledge. Now, the times of the New Testament, and the Old, for that matter, know nothing of knowledge or faith that does not result in action. I think I've said it before on the blog, and I know of I've said it in person: if we really know God's truth, our behavior changes to adapt to God's Word. This is true: if we know God, we learn to act like He wants us to act.
Now, this is not about rule-keeping. It's not about following another person's opinion. Romans 14 addresses a large portion of this: that for some, rule-keeping helps them to grow, and for others, those same rules aren't necessary. Note: we're talking here about debatable rules, not the non-declinable behaviors of Christians: fellowship with believers, prayer, a life of holiness. We're more into the "Should I journal or not journal?" or "Is it okay for Christians to listen to secular music?" discussions. You're not more saved (or less) if you have Brad Paisley or Rob Thomas in your iTunes playlist. (We'll await the angels to rule about any use of Windows Media Player.) As we grow, we should be allowing God to work in us about what is or is not appropriate.
So, we should be praying for our brothers and sisters to grow in grace and knowledge. We should also be driven to grow in grace and knowledge ourselves.
(Quick plug: want a great story on forgiveness? Check out Andy Andrews' book The Heart Mender. No, I don't get anything for you clicking there, it's just a good read. Review coming soon.)