Everyone has their own idea of what it means to be “mature”. Everyone has marks that they look for in another person’s life to see if they indeed are mature. I read a quote by Fred Cook this week and he says it well, “Maturity is the ability to do a job whether supervised or not; finish it once started; carry money without spending it; and…bear an injustice without wanting to get even.” That is a great definition of maturity, though there are probably as many different definitions as there are people reading this.
- The problem is that many of us don’t have a definition of what it means to be spiritually mature. Many of us have had that question in mind for a long time: How do I become a mature Christian? What does maturity in the Christian life look like? There may be others who are looking at this question and have no doubt what Christian maturity looks like because they’re thinking, “It looks like me!” Well, let’s look at God’s word to see what God says a mature believer looks like. Look at Psalm 119:73-80:
73 Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame!
How Do I Become a Mature Christian?
- Do You Have a Desire for Growth? (73, 80): If so, this passage teaches that maturity means Bible.
- The Psalmist submits himself to his creator (v73), and then acknowledges that it is this same creator that will give him wisdom and understanding (v73). Not only that, he prays that he might be complete, or sound in his life, as he applies the understanding he receives (v80).
- Understanding: 2 Corinthians 4:6-7, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Paul is clearly teaching submission to God the creator as the giver of the knowledge of Christ); He says something similar in Colossians 1:9, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…”
- The application of the knowledge of God results in a spiritually mature life: Colossians 1: 10-14, “…so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
- Charles Spurgeon said about this verse, “He who has made us live will (and indeed must) make us learn.” I would add to that, “…so we may live.” We study the Bible to know, love and live the truth.
- Are You Connected to Other Believers? (74, 79): Maturity means living with others. The Psalmist points out the desire for his growth in God to assist others in their growth as well. He hopes they will be helped in two ways:
- By his Passion (v74): He hopes that they will see the hope that he has in the word of God and that they will share in his joy.
- By his Proclamation (v79): He hopes that they will turn to him, and this carries with it the idea of people turning to listen as someone speaks.
- Psalm 40:1-3 Says: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
- Ephesians 4:12-16, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
- “We do not only meet to share each other’s burdens, but to partake in each other’s joys, and some men contribute largely to the stock of mutual gladness. Hopeful men bring gladness with them. Despondent spirits spread the infection of depression, and hence few are glad to see them, while those whose hopes are grounded upon God’s word carry sunshine in their faces, and are welcomed by their fellows.” –Spurgeon. A mark of spiritual maturity is the gladness of God that you invest in the lives of others.
- Trusting God’s Faithfulness (v75): Matthew 5: 11-16, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
- Ignoring the World’s Falsehood (v78): Matthew 5: 43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
- Christ told us this kind of thing would happen. He told us that in this world we would have trouble, but that he has given us his peace and that we should take heart, for he has overcome the world. Remember what we said last week, that in all suffering, God has a reason and a purpose.
- Ironically, James 1:1-2 says that we should consider it joy when we endure suffering, for the testing of our faith produces endurance and the result of endurance, according to James, is guess what? Maturity. Maturity means enduring suffering.
- It’s a Loving work: The word that the Psalmist uses in verse 76 is hesed which is God’s covenantal love, or his loving faithfulness to his people. This is a comfort to the Psalmist and to us, for we know that maturity in our relationship with God is not dependent upon us, but upon him: Hebrews 12:2 says to fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Galatians 3 says that it is foolish to think that we are redeemed by grace, and made holy by our own efforts! Philippians 2: 12 says that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This would be scary, and impossible for us as sinful people, but we must read the next verse! Verse 13 reminds us that it is God who is at work within us both to will and to work for his good pleasure!
- It’s a Merciful work: Colossians 3:12-17, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Maturity is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
I pray this weekend of worship is a step toward spiritual maturity by God’s definition, and that we consistently measure our maturity according to that standard, not the standards of the world, or the standards we invent in our idol-making hearts.