by Dennis Michelson
Growing Old and Growing Up
II Peter 3:18
Introduction: To some people change means compromise. Peter says in our text that we need to grow in grace. If we are growing in grace then there will be of necessity changes in our lives. Sometimes change can mean compromise but a life with no changes (or growth) is really no life at all.
Growing in grace requires "groaning" in grace. Growth never comes without a price and its attendant problems. The world in which we live - and many of its religious systems - are no friend to grace. There is a difference between simply growing old and growing up! If you are growing in grace then it will result in:
1. Humility (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5)
A good definition of humility may be found in Romans 12:3. We should grow up to the point where we no longer think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Preachers who crave honorific titles - especially those which were never earned - ought to pause and grow up. We are simply sinners saved by the grace of God and the ground at the foot of the cross is quite level.
2. Honesty (I Corinthians 15:10)
But by the grace of God I am what I am and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Most dishonesty stems from our desire to have others think better of us than they ought to think. The grace of God frees us to be honest about ourselves and about others.
3. Hard Feelings (Galatians 2)
Paul and Peter had a knock down, drag out, fight in this chapter. The reason was due to the fact that one of them was simply growing old and the other one was growing up. Paul had grown in grace and Peter was moving back to the "baby steps" he was used to under the Mosaic law.
Different levels of growth in grace will not prevent confrontations, but it will help us choose the battles which are really worth fighting. It is a tragedy that most church problems do not arise from growing pains in grace but simply from juvenile mud slinging.
If your "fundamentals" could fill an entire legal pad then perhaps you need to grow up and transfer the things which really matter to an index card.
4. Helpfulness (Ephesians 4:7)
Do we derive more pleasure in serving or being served? God has graciously given to every believer a special capacity for service. If you are plagued with envy or apathy then you have missed the point. Our attitude ought to be "how can I be of service to you?"
5. Hope (II Corinthians 12:9)
My paltry need and God's abundant grace. What could possibly prevent us from being hopeful?
6. Happiness (Acts 11:23)
When is the last time someone visibly witnessed the grace of God in you and it produced happiness?
7. Help (Hebrews 4:16)
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Many pastors would have their counseling load decreased by a great percentage if those who have grown old would just grow up! Why are we so quick to run to men when we have instant access into the presence of God. Ultimately our help comes from the Lord.
Conclusion: Some people pride themselves in being able to say "I have not changed one bit since I was saved." It is important to hold fast to fundamental doctrinal distinctions if they are biblically sound.
However, we are saved so that we can become more like Jesus Christ and for most of us at least - that means change. Preaching the truth is relatively easy if you compare it with practicing the truth.
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