9 Practical and Ordinary Ways to Grow in Grace

Growing in grace is a term that we don’t use in our churches much anymore. It’s straight out of 2 Peter, though. Growing in grace is another way of talking about maturing as believers in Christ.

In his classic work, Thoughts on Religious Experience, Archibald Alexander gives nine practical directions for growing in grace. I’ll modernize and summarize them a bit for you:

  1. Convince yourself that growth in Christ “will never be attained without vigorous, continued effort”. This should be your most important pursuit.
  2. Yet “you must have it deeply fixed in your mind that nothing can be effected in this work without the aid of the Divine Spirit”.
  3. Stay in the Word continually and “obtain clear and consistent views of the plan of redemption”. Even the most learned must know how to “sit at the feet of Jesus in the spirit of a child, or they are not likely to be edified by their studies”.
  4. “Pray constantly and fervently for the influences of the Holy Spirit”.
  5. Take time to look into the state of your soul. “Be in earnest to search out al your secret sins and to repent of them”.
  6. Pursue deep and meaningful relationships with other believers—especially those who are strong believers but aren’t part of your “party or sect”.
  7. Do more than you have done previously. Give more, share the gospel more, etc.
  8. “Practice self-denial every day”.
  9. Know that for your growth God may cast you into the furnace of affliction.

As I read through this list there isn’t anything that jumps out at me. This is simple ordinary Christian living. No secret keys to growing in Christ just simple plodding along type of disciplines.

I’m convinced that most readers will likely skip right through this article. I’m not anticipating a great deal of shares on this one—simply because there isn’t really anything novel here. And that’s the point. In order to grow in Christ you probably don’t need to go to the Christian book store and get a stack of new books. You probably need to just sit down and read the Proverbs for 15 minutes every day. Or maybe call up a Christian friend and talk about what the Lord is doing in your life. Pick a particular sin that the Lord has been revealing to your heart and go to war against it. Stuff like that.

I’m convinced Christian growth requires hard work not necessarily novel ideas. It’s not for lack of information that many professing believers aren’t growing in holiness. It’s more about not applying and living out what we already know.

Today in Blogworld 05.27.16

What Cringing at Your Own Dumb Voice Reveals About You

This is really interesting to me because I really don’t like listening to myself.

14 Totally Free Things on the Internet

A few neat things on this list. Had no idea about that documentary website.

Don’t Be Embarrassed By Your Ordinary Church

Great reminder.

Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathroom?

In my opinion, the way Piper answers this question is more important than his answer.

Want to see someone light a match with a slingshot?

Unexpected Joys

I thought for sure I had failed Greek. One of the core parts that make an MDIV degree different from other master’s degrees at seminary are the languages and I was failing Greek. To be clear, I got a 35 on my final. How in the world could I possibly pass?

For months I had been struggling through what was easily the hardest class I had ever taken. Not only that, this is the Elementary level. Greek 101, if you will. This is the groundwork class one takes in order to take the Greek classes that are actually required for the MDIV degree. I was doing the work, and it was kicking my tail.

Failing Greek is not something I was taking well, either. Being such a core part of the MDIV degree and given my aspirations to be an elder in the church, I started to doubt my call. How could I be a minister of the Gospel if I can’t pass elementary Greek?

I had been miserable to be around this whole semester as I don’t deal well with academic struggles. I had a 4.0. This was going to kill my GPA. My wife was eagerly looking forward to the day when this class was over, whether I passed or not. She wanted me to be done so that things could get back to normal.

I had even gone through some semblance of the stages of grief. Assuming that I had failed, I was angry. I tried to figure out why I did so poorly and blamed timing and circumstances in life. Then I moved on to sorrow. Finally I made peace with it, resolving to take it again and do far better.

I got an email this morning. Given previous test scores and my scores for quiz work throughout the semester I had earned a C. I was incredulous.

I passed. 

What was my reaction? I laughed.

Then I told everyone I had been whining to I had passed.

Then I laughed some more.

I was convinced I had failed this class. Not only was I convinced that I had failed it, but that I had spectacularly failed. I was wrong.

I had taken a class that was meant to aid me in my study of God’s word and turned it into an idol on the road to ministry. When I thought I had failed and the idol had been smashed I finally had peace. I had time to think and reflect on my performance in the class and my unhealthy reliance on a good grade. My study of God’s word does not depend on my grade in Greek. My goal to be an elder in a local church does not hinge on getting A’s in Greek.

What if I had cruised through Greek with my attitude, though? I would have assumed that my brain was awesome and grasped all these things and thus I would be great as an elder. It feels ridiculous to type that out, but I’m being brutally honest here.

I’m grateful I struggled. I’m grateful I thought I failed. I’m grateful for the painful process of prying the idol of performance in school from my hands. I needed the lesson of working hard to pass with a C in a class I thought I bombed. I needed the reminder that MDIV’s don’t come with GPA’s attached.

My pride needed to be burned down. I needed a swift kick in the rear to quit being so melodramatic over a class. I needed to quit whining.

I learned all those things in the past several weeks as I processed the thought that I had failed. It was God’s good grace that I passed.

Unexpected joy.

Today in Blogworld 05.26.16

When Honor Becomes Toxic

It stinks that this is such a temptation in ministry and writing about Jesus—so foolish.

A Call For Plodding Bloggers

I appreciate this encouragement.

Is Your Pastor Happy To See You?

Interesting dichotomy between this article and the first one.

Preacher, Teacher, Sunday Entertainer?

I love what is being said here, though I think it might have been a tad more effective to say “Compared to the Scriptures you are ridiculously boring” or something like that. Some pastors are entertaining and funny—but that needs to be submitted to the awesomeness of Scripture.

Speaking of “not boring” Pixar knows how to tell a story. Here is a little video on what makes a story relatable: