The book of 2 Peter closes with an exhortation to Christians to grow. In what manner? The closing verse of the epistle reads: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
That last verse begins with a contrast: “But.” This word makes us look back at the message which precedes it. There is the appeal for Christians to be without spot and blameless (3:14), followed by the appeal to consider God’s longsuffering (3:15) and the reality that some twist the Scriptures (3:16). Then, there is this warning-reminder: “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (3:17).
So, saints of God need to beware – beware lest they fall from their own steadfastness. What can help us to avoid such a catastrophe? Peter’s immediate answer is to grow – grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. That sounds simple enough, does it not? As we know all too well, though, sounding easy and being easy to put into practice are two different matters!
When it comes to our spiritual growth, we either grow or we become stagnant and die. Our growth is not a one-and-done activity. It is not something which we can cross off of our list and say, “I have completed that task.” Rather, it is an ongoing process, one that requires diligent effort on our part. That is true whether we have been in the Lord for fifty years or merely fifty days. Remember the words of Peter from chapter one: “. . . giving all diligence, add to your faith . . . be even more diligent to make your call and election sure . . .” (1:5,10). Yes, diligence is a key. The definition of the English word “diligent” is “marked by persevering, painstaking effort” [www.yourdictionary.com]. Unless we put forth that type of effort, spiritual growth will not occur. In view of that, we must make our personal spiritual growth a top priority, a major goal in our lives. Are we prepared to do that?
We often refer to and think about growing in knowledge (3:18), but what about Peter’s parting charge to grow in the Savior’s grace? As a child of God, I need to grow in my appreciation of our Lord’s grace. By the grace of the Father, Jesus tasted death for every person (Hebrews 2:9), by that grace we are justified freely (Romans 3:24), and by that grace the giving God grants us eternal life (Romans 6:23). In view of what God’s grace/ His good will/favor/undeserved kindness does and makes possible for me, like Paul I should “bow my knees to the Father” in gratitude (Ephesians 3:14). May I ever be conscious of the reality that “by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Without my Lord’s grace, I am nothing.
Besides increasing in my appreciation of the Savior’s grace, I also need to grow in my imitation of His grace. Before I can do that, of course, I must be aware of how He demonstrated grace in His life. To obtain such understanding, I must spend time studying the Bible, learning the Master’s ways and the type of heart that He manifested while living on earth (Philippians 2:5). He is my model. How much do I act like Him?
Jesus showed compassion on people (Mark 1:42). Do I do that?
Jesus unconditionally loved everyone whom He encountered, caring for the soul of each one (Mark 10:21). Do I do that?
Jesus spoke with kindness (Luke 10:41,42). Do I speak with such grace? (Colossians 4:6).
Jesus expressed His desire for those who had sinned and mistreated Him to be forgiven (Luke 23:34). Am I like that?
Jesus wanted people to enjoy the blessing of eternal life (John 4:10,14). Do I have such a heart?
Jesus gave people second chances (John 21:15-18). Am I willing to do that?
Jesus treated people like He would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). Am I like that?
Jesus treated all people of all backgrounds in the same manner, having prejudice toward none (John 4:7,9). Do I imitate such an attitude?
A third area of grace in which I need to grow is in my preparation to teach others about our Lord’s grace. It is good to know about His grace. Imitating His grace is even better. But the best approach is to know His grace, imitate His grace, and teach others about it. In a world of corruption, chaos, and counterfeit religions, people need to hear about our Lord’s perfect conduct, perfect speech, perfect attitude, and perfect sacrifice for sins.
The call of 2 Peter 3:18 is to grow in the Savior’s grace and knowledge. It is a vital instruction for all Christians of every generation. How seriously do you and I take such a message?
— Roger D. Campbell