Thursday, August 24, 2017

Growing in Grace by Sharing the Hope of Christ

The Apostle Peter drew his second letter to a close with these wise and pastoral words: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). The word “grow” is an exhortation and a command, and it implies that if we’re to progress in Christ we must play an active role, by the grace of Christ, in building habits that nurture that progress. Therefore, I am offering a series of devotionals this summer and early fall on eight essential habits that help us to grow in grace. For today, let’s consider the place of evangelism in the Christian life.

To grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, we must flow with the grace and knowledge of Christ toward others. To be shaped into the image of him who saved us, we must join in his mission to seek and save the lost. We must learn to be rivers rather than reservoirs, for reservoirs stagnate and breed death but rivers thrive and breed life.

One day while Jesus was teaching at the temple complex in Jerusalem, he “stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive…” (John 7:37-39). It’s amazing enough that Jesus, who is God over all, would lavish his grace upon us by giving his life-giving Spirit to us. But it’s nearly incomprehensible that he would then cause his Spirit to flow through us like a river so that others may be blessed as well. As the Lord promised Abraham two millennia earlier, “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). He blessed Abraham to be a blessing, and by his amazing grace, he does the same for us.

This is why I say that to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, we must flow with the grace and knowledge of Christ toward others. We must share the love of him who has loved us, so that others might also be enfolded into that love. As we embrace the mission of Christ, we will feast on the joy of Christ and be shaped into his image, from one degree of glory to another.

Therefore, my encouragement to us today is this. First, let us seek and savor Christ every day of our lives. The more we humbly receive from him, the more we will naturally overflow with him. The more we enjoy him, the more we will speak of him, for our lips praise what our hearts ponder. Second, let us pray and plead with Christ on a daily basis for the lost. Let us talk to Christ about people, before we talk to people about Christ. Let us pray with faith and plead with tears that our family, friends, acquaintances, and neighbors would come to know the gracious Author of Life. Finally, let us go with Christ and thus grow in Christ for the glory of his name, the good of others, and the lasting joy of our own souls. Lord Jesus, help us to hear and heed your Word.

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