Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Grow in Grace!

Meditation for the week of August 23, 2009

2Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

“Grow to be like Christ and grow in an intimate understanding of Who Christ is.”  That would be a possible rendering of this last verse that Peter wrote.  Peter who cut off the high priest’s servant ear in the garden (John 18:10) now wants us to grow in grace and in Christ-likeness. 

Peter had denied the Lord, and yet he he was commissioned to feed the Lord’s sheep (Luke 22:50-51).  He had seen the grace of the Lord in restoring him to fellowship and service after his denial of the Lord.  Peter had seen the grace of the Lord as the Lord healed the high priest’s servant’s ear that Peter had cut off.  Peter had learned to graciously accept a rebuke from a man who was once an enemy of the Gospel and later Peter counted this man as a beloved brother (see Galatians 2:11 and 2 Peter 3:15).  He had received grace and had learned to show that grace to others and now his final words are to encourage us to grow in grace. 

Many people have told me that the reason that they are attracted to Christianity is because of its kindness.  They say they do not see that in any other of the major religions of the world.  The Jew was to exact an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  This kept the punishment equal to the crime and did not allow excessive punishment, but it didn’t show grace.  The Jews took vengeance on their enemies.   In the new testament, the Lord says that we are to suffer wrong (1 Corinthians 6:7), that when we are hit on one cheek, we are to turn the other one (Matthew 5:39).  When asked to go one mile, we are to go two (Matthew 5:41).  Vengeance is not ours but something we are to commit to the Lord (Romans 12:19).   The Lord didn’t ask us to do what He would not do.  He ultimately showed the grace of God by allowing Himself to be nailed to a cross by those he had created and whom He wanted to save.

Grace takes people by surprise because we tend to show so little of it.  Many of us believe that we do not have to forgive those who do not ask to be forgiven.  Many of us show real hatred and ridicule toward officials that have been elected by majority vote of this country because we disagree with them.  Some of us kill the doctors that abort babies.  Some of us believe people of other races are suspect and inferior.   We believe in the right to carry guns so that we can defend ourselves from those who might harm us.  We believe in “just wars”.  Do we really believe in grace?

Grace is what breaks the cycle of sin.  Grace is obtaining favor or a gift that is free and is undeserved.  If instead of carrying guns, we carried a soft answer which the Bible says turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), I wonder what would happen?  If instead of hating those who have harmed us, we prayed for them and went out of our way to show them kindness, I wonder what would happen?  If instead of trying to drive a hard bargain in business, we paid more than we thought something was worth, I wonder what would happen?  I am afraid people would be so surprised and shocked that they wouldn’t know what to make of us.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  They would know that we were different, but different in a good way.

The Lord tried using law in the old testament times to obtain good behavior and it didn’t work.  The law causes us to figure out the loopholes so we can think we are righteous when we aren’t.  The law should show us how depraved we really are.  The law even causes us to be tempted to sin since the minute we find out we shouldn’t do something, we tend to want to do it so we can see why it so important that we not do it.  But now in the new testament, the Lord is using grace to make us more like Christ.  However even though the Lord was gracious, that doesn’t mean His followers always are.  And if we who are saved  by grace, do not show grace, how is the Gospel going to prosper? 

Being gracious is difficult.  We are told that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  So then why are Christians so often “ungracious?”  Why do we act like the world instead of like Christ?  I think people are looking to see if the Gospel really changes things—does it really make a difference?  If they really saw Christians showing grace to each other and to the unsaved, maybe we would start “catching some flies.” 

I doubt that Peter would have written this if we were all as gracious as we should be, so let us grow in grace!

Bruce Collins

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