When I was a young child, I had a few small toy farm animals that I played with a lot in a certain place on the living room floor. I remember it well. There were two horses, a cow and two pigs. They weren’t all exactly sized the same so the pigs were bigger than the horses which didn’t really matter to me. I had five or six pieces of plastic fencing and some blocks. I would spend hours every day playing with the little barnyard scene. I loved it.
One day I realized I hadn’t played with the little animals in some time and I rushed to get the toys out after I got home from school. I got everything set up in the spot on the floor where I always played. I suddenly became aware of a few things. One, I didn’t like being on the floor. It was uncomfortable. Two, now that I was laying on the floor and I had the animals in the little pen I had built, I realized there was a limited number of scenarios I could enact. After a few minutes, I picked up the toys and put them away. I never played with them again.
The toys hadn’t changed. I had changed. I was growing up. Growing up and spiritual maturing is what God intends for us. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18
Paul criticizes the Corinthian church for their lack of maturity. He treats them as if they are babies in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:2,3 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Paul tells them to grow up! God wants them to grow up – because immaturity causes all kinds of problems.
Maturity is not just a matter of age. Spiritual maturity takes time. It takes energy and it takes effort. No one becomes spiritually mature overnight. Even Jesus grew as he grew up. Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
But, you can get older and not grow to spiritual maturity. It’s like the bumper sticker that says, “I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up.” Spiritual maturity involves much more than just the aging process.
Spiritual maturity is a matter of character. Character makes a difference. It’s character that counts. D. L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Character is what God knows about you.
So how do we grow to spiritual maturity?
A spiritual mature person is positive under pressure. James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James tells us to have a positive attitude when it comes to pressure. He tells us to count it all joy when you fall into various trials. All of us have problems in this life. All of us have trials. All of us have situations that are not good. How do you handle them? How do you deal with it all? Do your problems blow you out of the water? Do you get up-tight? Do you grumble and gripe? Do you get negative or nervous? The first test of spiritual maturity is how do you act positive under pressure?
Life is full of problems and a big part of life is problem solving. The question to is, do I have the right attitude as I approach the problems of life? You can know the Bible backward and forward but you can also be rude, crude and obnoxious as well. What is your attitude toward life? What is your character when everything is falling apart? A spiritual mature person is positive under pressure.
A spiritual mature person is sensitive to the needs of other people. 1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? A spiritually mature person doesn’t just look out for their own needs. They are also aware of the needs of others. They understand that there are many around them that are hurting and have needs.
When children are young they say, I want this or I want that. I don’t care about what you want. I want. I want. I want. I want my way. It’s my way or the highway. I want it all. Give it to me.
God tells us that spiritual maturity is about love and being concerned about other people. Don’t look down on other people. Don’t judge by appearances. Don’t insult people. The second test of spirituality maturity is how I treat other people.
A spiritual mature person is a peacemaker not a troublemaker.
Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
James tells us: “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.” James 4:1
James is talking about conflicts and quarrels. Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker? Do I like to argue? Do I like to debate? Do I like to stir the pot? Do I hurt other people’s feelings? Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker?’ The mark of a spiritually mature person is the lack of conflict in their life. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 “Do your best to live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
I understand that you can’t always live at peace with everyone but you are to give it your best effort.
A spiritual mature person is patient. “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8
If there is anyone who has patience, it’s a farmer. He plants the seed, he cultivates, he sprays, he waits. There are no overnight crops. Just like a farmer sometimes we have to wait. We wait on God to answer our prayers. We wait for a miracle. We wait for God to move in our lives. We wait. Patience is a mark of maturity. The only way to learn patience is by waiting.
Many times God says, “Not yet.” That does not mean no. It means not yet. We need to wait. We need to be patient. “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
The spiritually mature person prays. There are things in your life right now that you think no one can fix. Guess what. God can. God can take that which is broken and mend it. He can take that which is bent and straighten it out. He can take that which is shattered and make it whole. God is that big. God is that powerful. If there are problems in your life – go to Him in prayer.
How do you handle your problems? Are you positive under pressure? Are you sensitive to the needs of others around you? Are you a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker? Are you patient and are you prayerful? These are all marks of a spiritually mature Christian.
I pray that I may learn to walk in spirit and truth so that I may mature in my Christian faith as I study the Bible and learn to live godly in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray,