We are commanded of the Lord to grow in grace and the knowledge of God (2Pet 3:18). The Greek word χαρισ (charis) translated ‘grace’ is defined by the Thayer Greek Lexicon as “2a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues”.
The following are the comments of Albert Barnes on growing in grace:
Religion in general is often represented as ‘grace,’ since every part of it is the result of grace, or of unmerited favor; and to “grow in grace” is to increase in that which constitutes true religion. Religion is as susceptible of cultivation and of growth as any other virtue of the soul.
It is feeble in its beginnings, like the grain of mustard seed, or like the germ or blade of the plant, and it increases as it is cultivated. There is no piety in the world which is not the result of cultivation, and which cannot be measured by the degree of care and attention bestowed upon it.
No one becomes eminently pious, any more than one becomes eminently learned or rich, who does not intend to; and ordinarily men in religion are what they design to be. They have about as much religion as they wish, and possess about the character which they intend to possess.
When men reach extraordinary elevations in religion, like Baxter, Payson, and Edwards, they have gained only what they meant to gain; and the gay and worldly professors of religion who have little comfort and peace, have in fact the characters which they designed to have.
If these things are so, then we may see the propriety of the injunction “to grow in grace;” and then too we may see the reason why so feeble attainments are made in piety by the great mass of those who profess religion.
Here is what Adam Clarke has to say about growing in grace:
Increase in the image and favor of God; every grace and Divine influence which ye have received is a seed, a heavenly seed, which, if it be watered with the dew of heaven from above, will endlessly increase and multiply itself.
He who continues to believe, love, and obey, will grow in grace, and continually increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, as his sacrifice, sanctifier, counsellor, preserver, and final Savior. The life of a Christian is a growth; he is at first born of God, and is a little child; becomes a young man, and a father in Christ.
Every father was once an infant; and had he not grown, he would have never been a man. Those who content themselves with the grace they received when converted to God, are, at best, in a continual state of infancy: but we find, in the order of nature, that the infant that does not grow, and grow daily, too, is sickly and soon dies; so, in the order of grace, those who do not grow up into Jesus Christ are sickly, and will soon die, die to all sense and influence of heavenly things.
There are many who boast of the grace of their conversion; persons who were never more than babes, and have long since lost even that grace, because they did not grow in it. Let him that readeth understand.
Beware of those ungodly people that try to turn the grace of God into lawlessness and immorality (Jud 1:4) by claiming that sinning is compatible with the Christian experience.