Are you growing in grace?
As Christians we should always be growing in our Christian lives. “Am I growing in grace?” (see 2 Peter 3:18) is an important question to ask ourselves – and the start of a new year is a good time to think about it. But how do we know if we’re growing in grace? In A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson provides 3 signs of our growing in grace and 4 signs of our not growing in grace – as well as 2 things we can do to grow in grace.
The signs of our not growing in grace:
 When we have lost our spiritual appetite. A consumptive person has not that stomach to his meat as formerly. Perhaps, Christian, thou canst remember the time when thou didst hunger and thirst after righteousness, thou didst come to the ordinances with such a stomach as to a feast; but now it is otherwise, Christ is not so prized, nor his ordinances so loved. This is a sad presage that grace is on the declining hand; and thou art in a deep consumption. It was a sign that David was near his grave when they covered him with clothes, and he got no heat, 1 Kings 1: 1; so, when a person is covered with the warm clothes of ordinances, and yet has no heat of affection to spiritual things, it is a sign that he is declining in grace.
 When we grow more worldly. Perhaps we once mounted into higher orbs, we set our hearts on things above, and spake the language of Canaan; but now our minds are taken off from heaven, we dig our comfort out of the lower mines, and with Satan compass the earth. This is a sign we are going down the hill apace, and our grace is in a consumption. It is observable when nature decays, and people are near dying, they grow more stooping; and truly, when menís hearts grow more stooping to the earth, and they can hardly lift up themselves to a heavenly thought, if grace be not dead, yet it is ready to die. Rev 3: 2.
 When we are less troubled about sin. Time was when the least sin grieved us, as the least hair makes the eye weep; but now we can digest sin without remorse. Time was when we were troubled if we neglected closet prayer; now we can omit family-prayer. Time was when vain thoughts troubled us; now we are not troubled for loose practices. Here is a sad declension in religion; and truly grace is so far from growing that we can hardly perceive its pulse to beat.
The signs of our growing in grace:
 The first sign of our growing, is, when we have got beyond our former measures of grace. It is a sign a child thrives when he has outgrown his clothes. That knowledge which would serve us before will not serve us now; we have a deeper insight into religion, our light is clearer, our spark of love is increased into a flame; there is a sign of growth. That competency of grace we once had is too scanty for us now; we have outgrown ourselves.
 When we are more firmly rooted in religion. ‘Rooted in him, and established:’ the spreading of the root shows the growth of the tree. Col 2: 7. When we are so strongly fastened on Christ, that we cannot be blown down with the breath of heretics, it is a blessed sign of growth. Athanasius was called Adamas ecclesiae [the Adamant of the Church, an adamant that could not be removed from the love of the truth.
 When we have a more spiritual frame of heart. (1.) When we are more spiritual in our principles; when we oppose sin out of love to God, and because it strikes at his holiness. (2.) When we are more spiritual in our affections. We grieve for the first rising of corruption, for the bubbling up of vain thoughts, and for the spring that runs underground. We mourn not only for the penalty of sin, but for its pollution. It is not a coal only that burns, but blacks. (3.) When we arc spiritual in the performance of duty. We are more serious, reverent, fervent; we have more life in prayer, we put fire to the sacrifice. ‘Fervent in spirit.’ Rom 12: 2: We serve God with more love, which ripens and mellows our duty, and makes it come off with a better relish.
 When grace gets ground by opposition. The fire, by an antiperistasis, burns hottest in the coldest season. Peter’s courage increased by the opposition of the high priest and the rulers. Acts 4: 8, 11. The martyr’s zeal was increased by persecution. Here was grace of the first magnitude.
What shall we do to grow in grace?
(1.) Take heed of that which will hinder growth, as the love of any sin. The body may as well thrive in a fever, as grace can where any sin is cherished.
(2.) Use all means for growth in grace. 1st. ‘Exercise yourselves unto godliness.’ I Tim 4: 7. The body grows stronger by exercise. Trading of money makes men grow rich; so the more we trade our faith in the promises, the richer in faith we grow. 2ndly. If you would be growing Christians, be humble Christians. It is observed in some countries, as in France, the best and largest grapes, which make wine, grow on the lower sort of vines; so the humble saints grow most in grace. ‘God giveth grace to the humble.í I Pet 5: 5. 3rdly. Pray to God for spiritual growth. Some pray that they may grow in gifts. It is better to grow in grace than gifts. Gifts are for ornament, grace is for nourishment. Gifts edify others; grace saves ourselves. Some pray that they may grow rich; but a fruitful heart is better than a full purse. Pray that God would make you grow in grace, though it be by affliction. Heb 12: 10. The vine grows by pruning. Godís pruning-knife is to make us grow more in grace.