Our son, Kenny, just turned forty. But I can still hear him as a little kid saying, “Daddy! Measure me!” Like most kids he loved to see how much he had grown. We had a post where I measured him and made a mark. It was an objective way to see how much taller he was.
But of course we know that maturity is more than just physical growth. It’s mental maturity. Emotional maturity. Social maturity. Like one sage said, “You are only young once, but you can be immature forever!”
What about Christians? Do we like to be spiritually measured? Our word of the week is “maturity.” Consider Paul’s exhortation as a personal challenge.
“…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.” (Eph. 4:13-16)
From the language used in this passage, it is obvious God wants Christians to mature spiritually. While there is much that can be done through the collective fellowship of the Church to stimulate and encourage spiritual maturity, it must be an individual commitment. George Eliot was right when he wrote, “The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” This requires personal examination of 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. Here are four areas for you to consider.
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.
Is your character becoming more like Christ? The ultimate goal of all Christian education. 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.”
Discipleship is a process, not an event. It takes time. Effort. Energy. It doesn’t happen over night. And you are the one who must do it. As an old Irish proverb put it, “You need to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.”
Anyone brave enough to say, “Master, measure me”?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman