At birth, we do not have to take thought as to our growth process or environment. We do not know the way in which we will obtain food, dress, or shelter. We simply and unintentionally rely on someone else to ‘take care' of us and ensure appropriate needs are met. As children, we glean most wisdom to make decisions through being taught by our caretakers, and by experiencing trial and error. As adults, we gain understanding of right versus wrong through the conventional laws, testing the laws, failing to meet requirements, and at times, suffering through poor decisions. Growing in grace follows the same principal of growth as any other area of life: statute, action, consequence and choice.
To experience grace, one must have broken some established rule or crossed a defined boundary. These edicts could have been instituted personally, spiritually or relationally. The action that violates, whether it is conscious or not, creates a sort of hazard to the relationship and typically causes some kind of emotional , physical or spiritual harm. Grace is the pardon, mercy or clemency bestowed upon the offender despite the offense.
To develop maturity through grace will require acknowledgement, humility and an actual desire on the part of the wrongdoer. If forgiveness has been extended and the culprit fails to recognize: (a) the event/act/action was harmful (b) he/she is responsible for the injury or (c) the offended is clearly justified by the established law (rules/regulations), there will be no growth experienced.
Experience produces wisdom in all areas of life. Maturing in ‘grace' is not any different than learning how to better set boundaries related to eating habits, recreational habits, etc. A poor decision and associated consequence must be practiced and gleaned from. Similar to our natural process of growing, there is a time of natural ignorance, where the ‘grace' of another has been bestowed and the lawbreaker cannot, due to maturity, recognize the free gift.
Growth in grace is a process. It does not happen the first, second or third time it's experienced. It will typically begin to occur when a person can be held accountable for their actions. Oftentimes, a child will experience immeasurable grace in repetitious areas since there is an unclear understanding of the ‘wrong' performed. As a teen or young adult, there is still a blurred line in some areas of life that will inadvertently require the recurring extension of grace. However, once a certain maturity level has been achieved, and the offender is capable of mentally recognizing action and consequence, the opportunity for growth can be acted upon.
The natural ‘stages' of life and the imperfect nature of humans will provide continuous opportunities to both experience and mature in ‘grace.' To grow in anything will require the use of insight and good judgment gained through a prior experience. Growth in grace begins with freely accepting bestowed mercy and humbly recognizing imperfection in oneself.