Growth, grace, and the gospel

We have joined the happy horde of dog owners. We adopted a sweet and crafty Mini Aussie named Penny. She is a puppy and she acts like a puppy. She chews on toys and on items that are not toys. She digs along the fence and has escaped into a neighbor’s yard on two occasions. With love, training, and patience, she will grow beyond some of the typical puppy behavior. But right now, we cannot expect her to be something she is not. We need to have reasonable expectations.

We are not so different. Children should not be expected to behave as adults. We expect them to be respectful, but we expect them to be children. We give love, training, and patience as they grow. With God’s grace and parental dedication they will move beyond their childhood, into adolescence, and eventually become mature, godly adults.

Christians experience a similar growth pattern. From infancy to adulthood, a healthy disciple will grow!

Growth should characterize the life of a Christian. We have a personal obligation to grow, but also to give grace to those who are growing.

From Abraham to Moses, from Peter to John, God’s grace can be seen in the midst of man’s growth. Abraham grew in his faith, and while he sinned, he did not waver (Romans 4:20), and neither did God. Peter and John were two volatile disciples who sinned in their service to God. Jesus did not condone the sin, but patiently guided them in their growth toward maturity.

None of us are where we want to be. More importantly, none of us are where God wants us to be. When confronted with the need to grow, we do not condone sin, but through love, discipline, and patience we encourage growth.

“My little children, for whom I am in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Galatians 4:19 ESV).

It is unfortunate when we gauge someone’s faithfulness by our own standards and our own understandings rather than the gospel’s standards.

Some of us have taken years or decades to reach certain truths that we previously did not grasp. How just is it to demand of others that they immediately join us? Instead, we should uncompromisingly teach the truth and at the same time be prepared to patiently wait for our fellow sojourners to reach their destination.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

In my growth I am challenged that I am not what I should be, but I am also encouraged that God loves me and wants me to succeed. He wants me to improve, he wants me to grow.

The gospel demands growth, but it provides grace to those who are growing.

Let us “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and give him the glory “both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

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