Growing in grace leads to surprising difficulties. As disciples we want to grow more and more into the image of Christ. As a church we want the whole body to be built up and knit together. Stagnant spirituality stinks, so how could spiritual progress not be necessarily refreshing? Growth is positive, yes, and sometimes painful.
Growing in grace can be painful when others see our growth and say something encouraging. A friend says, “You don’t fly off the handle nearly as often as you used to.” He’s thankful for the grace at work he sees in your life. You’re reminded how frequently you got up on the angry side of the bed. Your wife says, “I’m so thankful for how sweet and compassionate you’ve become.” You hear her talking about a husband formerly known as a selfish fathead. We wanted to be more patient and joyful. We prayed that God would make us more kind and loving. But now that other people notice, it hurts.
If they would just forget what we were like than maybe we could too. Of course, if they (and we) forget, the testimony of God’s grace is forgotten, too. Be careful when you grow in grace, other people may notice and it may pop more pockets of pride.
Be careful also when you want others to grow in grace. It can be painful, not only for them to see us grow, but for us to see them grow. Your disciple starts taking his kids for pancakes every Saturday morning and leaves you without a golf buddy. Your son gets serious about his faith and starts getting up early–unlike you–to read his Bible and pray. We wanted them to grow but not grow right by.
If they would just stay where they were then we could too. Of course, if they (and we) stay put, the God’s grace makes no name for itself. When others grow it may make us fearful that our own weaknesses and immaturity will be seen, or it make may us jealous that they’re receiving growth blessings that we want.
Blessings of grace, even in Christian growth, may make us uncomfortable and expose more need for growth and sins to confess.