How You Can Grow in Christ (2 Peter 3:18)
Personal growth is never easy; it requires work. Whether you are trying to grow intellectually, physically, or professionally, you must be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get down to work. This is hardly a revelation. You know how difficult it can be to grow intellectually through rigorous study, grow physically by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and grow professionally by working long, hard, and smart. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that it also takes work to grow in Christ.
As Christians, we are all called to grow in Christ; a process that should begin the moment we are saved and continue throughout our lives. This is the message in 2 Peter 3:18 where we read: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Few Christians would argue against the need to constantly grow in Christ but knowing what we should do and doing it are two different things.
Often a major barrier between knowing what to do and actually doing it is understanding how to go about it. I struggle with the how-to aspects of growing in Christ as much as any Christian. To help myself and others with this challenge, I developed a brief checklist of practical things you and I can do to obey the admonition in 2 Peter 3:18. Here is my list:
Rather than seeking the approval of your peers, colleagues, or anyone else, practice looking to Christ for the approval, assurance, and acceptance you need. There is no status or title in the world more important than being a child of God.
Rather than trying to fit in at school or work, practice living and working in ways that will ensure you fit in with God. Being part of the family of God is more important than being part of the in-crowd at school or work.
When life becomes difficult or tragedy strikes, run to God not from Him. Don’t blame God when life’s circumstances overwhelm you. Try to remember that in a fallen world, bad things sometimes happen to good people, and being a Christian is no guarantee against sorrow, loss, or failure. However, it is a guarantee that when hard times come Christ will be right beside you to walk you through them. Taking this advice may be one of the hardest things you ever have to do, but the growth in Christ and results will be worth the effort.
When you face challenges in life that leave you feeling inadequate, practice telling yourself this: “By myself, I am inadequate but with Christ all things are possible.” Enlist Christ on your side and proceed with confidence knowing that with His help you can do what needs to be done.
When expenses exceed your income and debts begin to add up, don’t panic. Instead, look to God for help. Through a closer relationship with Christ, you can rearrange your priorities which, in turn, will help you begin to live below your means and begin pecking away at accumulated debts.
Practice being thankful to God, especially when it seems you have nothing to be thankful for. This is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do. However, even in the midst of loss, tragedy, grief, disappointment, and discouragement, you can find blessings from God if you will look for them.
We rarely grow in Christ during good times, but during difficult times opportunities for growth abound. For most of us, it’s only when life beats us down that we fully realize how dependent on God we are and that independence is a myth. To grow in Christ, go to Christ—particularly when life becomes overwhelming.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Veteran’s Lament: Is This the America We Fought For? and Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press.