Over the years I have heard people teach that we are to “grow in grace.” For most teachers that means that we are supposed to obey so that God will be pleased and give us more grace. First He gives you a little; then, if you do well with what He has given, He will give you more – and the process begins again. Grace appears to mean ability or privilege in this perspective, or a combination of the two.
Instead, we teach that grace is what God does. In other words, it is the activity of God, motivated by His love. This is true particularly in the life of the believer. The whole package of the call to faith, the salvation experience, and the sanctification process is the work of God and is, therefore, grace.
So how do we “grow in grace”? It is possible for a true believer to act according to the thought processes of the flesh. In fact, we do this often. What that means is that we have a tendency to want to do things ourselves, even good things. The Lord is quite willing to allow us to try our own ways and experience the failures and problems that come with doing that. If grace is defined as His activity, then our activity in the flesh will hinder or hold back His grace.
I believe that growing in grace is actually growing in our relationship with Him. The more we acknowledge our dependence on Him and the more we open ourselves to His work in and through us, the more grace we will experience. As long as we try to live the Christian life in our own strength and with our own wisdom, we will find less of His grace.
2 Peter 3 teaches us to trust the Lord, no matter how long it takes or how difficult the circumstances might be. It will always be better to trust Him than to trust in our own efforts. In fact, the only real way to peace is to trust in Him. As long as I look to myself to live the Christian life, I will never feel “good enough”, “strong enough”, or “spiritual enough”. Only when I remember that He is faithful, strong, and good—and that He is active in my life in these ways, will I find peace.