Growth in grace
(Archibald Alexander, "Growth in Grace" 1844)
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen." 2 Peter 3:18
Growth in grace is evidenced by a more habitual vigilance against besetting sins and temptations, and by greater self-denial in regard to personal indulgence. A growing conscientiousness in regard to what may be called minor Christian duties is also a good sign. (The counterfeit of this is an over-scrupulous conscience, which sometimes haggles at the most innocent gratifications, and has led some to hesitate about taking their daily food.)
Increasing spiritual-mindedness is a sure evidence of progress in piety; and this will always be accompanied by increasing deadness to the world.
Continued aspirations for God, indicate the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, by whose agency all progress in sanctification is made.
Increasing solicitude for the salvation of men, sorrow on account of their sinful and miserable condition, and a disposition tenderly to warn sinners of their danger — evince a growing state of piety.
It is also a strong evidence of growth in grace, when you can bear injuries and provocations with meekness, and when you can from the heart desire the temporal and eternal welfare of your bitterest enemies.
An entire and confident reliance on the promises and providence of God, however dark may be your horizon, or however many difficulties environ you — is a sign that you have learned to live by faith.
Humble contentment with your condition, though it is one of poverty and obscurity — shows that you have profited by sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Diligence in the duties of our secular calling, with a view to the glory of God, is an evidence not to be despised.
Indeed, there is no surer standard of spiritual growth than a habit of aiming at the glory of God in everything.
Increasing love to the brethren is a sure sign of growth; for as brotherly love is a proof of the existence of grace, so is the exercise of such love a proof of vigor in the divine life.
A victory over besetting sins by which the person was frequently led away — shows an increased vigor in grace.
Sometimes the children of God grow faster when in the fiery furnace than elsewhere. As metals are purified by being cast into the fire — so saints have their dross consumed and their graces brightened — by being cast into the furnace of affliction.