“Grace” is a word that is mostly used in a religious sense these days, but what does it really mean? And as we are the recipients of God’s grace, what obligations does it come with on our part?
Grow in grace. You've heard that phrase before. It's certainly one that's taken from 2 Peter 3:18, where Peter records for us grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Now, one of the challenges is if you think grace is just unmerited pardon, then we run into a problem because if we think of it in those terms, in order to grow in pardon, growing grace would mean that I'd have to sin more and more and more. So obviously, grace, in this case, is not pointing to the fact that God pardons us.
I was reminded of this when I heard the story in a little cartoon that I was reading a number of years ago in "Dennis the Menace," if you ever read "Dennis the Menace" cartoon. Well, Dennis is always getting into trouble. And in this particular cartoon, it showed Dennis and his buddy, Joey, walking away from Mr. Wilson's house. Of course, they were always bothering Mr. Wilson. And in their hands, they both had a handful of cookies. And as the next scene in that cartoon went, Dennis is saying, "Wow, this is fantastic. What did we do to deserve Mrs. Wilson giving us all these cookies?" And in the final little frame, Joey says, "Mrs. Wilson didn't give us cookies because we're nice. She gave us cookies because she's nice." And I thought of that particular cartoon as a great example of what grace really is all about.
Yes, it can have an indication of being pardoned and freely pardoned. But it also points to the fact of pardon, connected to favor, that God favors us, just like Mrs. Wilson favored Dennis and Joey. It was because she was nice. She was full of grace. So you could put yourself in the shoes of Dennis the Menace or Joey and imagine God as Mrs. Wilson. And that grace that He gives us, is one, He just pours out on us freely.
And so when we think of it in those terms, we recognize, I need to grow in grace. I need to be good, I need to meet be more godly because that's the way God is. God is that way. And so I need to grow in grace and knowledge.
So next time you hear that passage, think about it in those terms, that God has this graceful influence on our heart and our mind, so that we should strive to be like Him, and grow in grace.
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