If grace can be decreased in power and effectiveness, hopefully there is a way to increase the same. Paul keeps saying “grace to you” at the beginning of his epistles and Peter tells us to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” ( 2 Peter 3:18)
The first way to increase grace is frankly out of our control – or better be:
- “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20)
Which statement Paul quickly clarifies two verses later, highlighted with another “God forbid”:
- “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)
Grace – the desire and power to overcome sin – is enlarged automatically whenever we are faced with increasing sin. That could be sin from past failures, or new temptation being pushed on us by the devil and his minions. We don’t pick this fight, but if it comes, God responds with an increase of supernatural desire and power to overcome it. And the effects are general and lasting. Those that come to Jesus out of the blackness of sin tend to burn brighter and fly higher than many of us with more protected backgrounds. At times it almost seems unfair . . . But it is how God “rolls”, to use the vernacular. The answer to our failures is not just to put us back together, but to put us together with a “Welcome Home” present, a gift we would never have otherwise had.
- “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:9)
Is there anything we can do – “legally” – to increase grace? The easy answer is that since God makes grace increase, we can just ask Him for it as we need it:
- “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
We have already focused on the “throne of grace” which we are urged to come to boldly to get all we need. But as we have discovered, we can dispense with that grace, freely given as it is, so there are responsibilities on our part if we are to “grow in grace”.
We need to first go back to another previously cited verse:
- “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7)
This statement – God giving grace to the humble while pushing away the proud – is also found in James 4:6, both of these in turn a quotation from Proverbs 3:34. It tells us that the key to “growing in grace” becomes as simple as how much we are prepared to humble ourselves before God and others. “Clothed with humility”, something we deliberately put on and, like clothing, is clear enough that everyone we are in contact with can see.
Apparently genuine humility is very much our responsibility. It is really not that hard, something any child can do. Dying to our pride, now that is hard. But no Christian should ever be under any illusion that any aspect of blessing or benefit enjoyed is due to his working really hard. Once we realize that God graces us in spite of our helpless and useless labors to improve our standing with Him, then we can relax, ask for, accept that grace, and then with joy “get busy” for Him.