Word Wednesday: How Do You Grow in Grace (Charis)?

“…But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2Peter 3:18

Fall yellow trees


How do you grow in grace? I guess to answer this question we need to understand the word.

How do you define grace?

Webster defines it as:

  1. beauty or charm of form
  2. an attractive quality
  3. a sense of what is right and proper
  4. good will, favor, mercy

In my dictionary, I had to scroll to the tenth definition to find the “theological” definition:

  • “the unmerited love and favor of God toward man.”

I used to be stuck on grace. I wanted to understand it theologically, but I also wanted to explore every nook and cranny of the word. And I wanted my life to exude grace in all its definitions–beauty, sense of what was right, good will, receiving and giving mercy, favor.

But our English definitions fall short of the true meaning of the word that we translate as grace in 2Peter 3:18.  It’s hard to grow in something that you aren’t defining the way the author intended.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The word grace was translated from the ancient Greek word charis (khar’ece).

key-word mine

The root of charis is chairo which means gratification, thankfulness, gratitude, or appreciations for a kindness granted. From its root, charis “denotes that which causes joy or pleasure, that which causes delight in the recipient or observer.” In reference to God, it can be understood as the “absolutely free expression of his loving-kindness toward men.” (Key-Word Study Bible, NIV)

So…knowing these definitions, the word grace is given a new perspective. It is one of joy, delight, and thankfulness for God’s loving kindness.

To grow in the grace of God does not mean I need to find more favor with him or become more graceful or pretty. I understand Peter’s instruction as encouragement to grow in my thankfulness, joy, and appreciation of what God did for me in Jesus by his loving-kindness.

How different would our lives and our testimony be if we grew in thankfulness and joy to God for our salvation? If everyday we were just a little bit more thankful and understood what God did for us on a deeper level? Can we fully wrap our minds around God’s mercy? No, but we can grow in that knowledge as we study and cling close to him.

Truthfully, I think some of us have walked with Jesus for so long we take for granted what he did for us. We get so focused on our problems and prayer requests and whether or not he’s fixed those problems or answered those prayers, that we forget where we’ve come from. We forget that we were once lost, empty, in sin’s darkness, and in desperate need of a Savior.

How does knowing the meaning of charis change your understanding of 2Peter 3:18? How will this change the way you live today?

May I pray for us?

“Dear God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for your incredible loving-kindness toward us. Help us grow in thankfulness and joy for what you did in Christ. Holy Spirit, please don’t let us ever forget what it took for us to have this relationship with you and the security of heaven. We love you. Amen.


You can do this too! My favorite resources for digging into the ancient text:



  1. Abby

    “I understand Peter’s instruction as encouragement to grow in my thankfulness, joy, and appreciation of what God did for me in Jesus by his loving-kindness”
    This is how I define Grace too after my Mom passed. Every day I try to grow in thankfulness, joy and appreciation. It is not easy to do with all life’s distractions and chores but my faith is in “who seeks shall they find”

    Love you Andy!

    1. I know how hard it is when you lose someone too soon. I’m so sorry for your grief, but I think you’ll find thankfulness and joy become easier as you choose to lean on His goodness. It’s another way to grow in grace. I’ll cheer you on. You’re not alone! Thanks for commenting. You always bless me.

  2. Thank you for this post and for your willingness to research the roots of the original languages as you share from God’s word.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Janice! I love to do this. It’s one of my favorite things.

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