The Measure of Our Maturity

Sometime ago I read a devotional piece by the minister and writer Bill Crowder.  He told about going to the Hallmark store to get a birthday card and came across one that read, “You are only young once, but you can be immature forever!”

I suppose if you are a fan of Peter Pan there is something attractive about never growing up.  But hopefully most Christians know that perpetual immaturity is not only inappropriate, but unacceptable.  Paul encourages us to mature through these words to the Ephesians.

“… until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;  but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,  from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

Without exploring an in-depth exegesis of this passage, from the language used it is obvious God wants Christians to grow.  Mature. Stature. Fullness. Grow up. Growth. Building Up.  All of these speak to the need of Christian maturity and development.

While there is much that can be done through the collective fellowship of Christians to stimulate and encourage growth, it must be an individual commitment.  George Eliot was right when he wrote, “The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.”  Unfortunately, too many Christians have grown older without growing up.  To grow, however, we must be willing to examine ourselves to see where we are spiritually (2 Cor. 13:5).

Unbiased and honest self-examination is difficult, but possible.  I believe that most of us know in our heart of hearts our spiritual strengths and weaknesses.  But, if you have difficulty being objective, ask someone close to you that will be honest, yet kind and encouraging.  Consider a few areas.

How’s your knowledge of the Word?  Are you spending time in the Word?  Learning more about Jesus? And how are your personal responsibilities as a disciple of Christ?

How’s your relationship with God and Jesus?  Mike Cope observed in his book One Holy Hunger “There is a huge difference between working for God and being God.  That thought is nothing new but when you’re in the business of making God known, it is easy to forget.  There are light years of difference between knowing about God and knowing God.”

Are you maturing in your discernment?  Paul commanded the Philippians to “abound more and more in all knowledge and discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent.”   Discernment is the ability to understand and apply our knowledge.  Discernment helps us order our priorities, handle the trials and temptations of life and protect us from Satan’s fiery darts.

Of course, the ultimate goal of all Christian education is to become more like Jesus.  To develop the character of Christ.  D. L. Moody once said, “Character is what you are in the dark.”  And so Christianity is more about what happens in our daily walk, than in a church pew on Sunday morning.  Christians who are filled with anger, ugliness and bitterness are immature, no matter how many years they have been Christians.  In fact, a failure to exhibit the qualities of love, joy and peace in our daily lives show that we are NOT “growing up in all aspects unto him who is the head, even Christ.”

I read somewhere once that discipleship is a process, not an event.  May each of us who claim to be Christians commit ourselves to the process and seek to the level of maturity that honors our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

4 Comments

Filed under maturity

4 responses to “The Measure of Our Maturity

  1. Ken Green

    Great article. One trivial correction. George Eliot was not a he.

  2. So true. I feel like in an effort to follow the words instructions to be like children we have substituted humble obedience for selfish immaturity. When we hear the apostle exclaim that as newborn babes we are to desire the milk of the word it should be made clear that even though we are the only creature to continue to drink milk all through our adult life, from a spiritual perspective we need to move on to solid food. The milk has its benefits but in order to grow to maturity we must graduate.

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