Saturating myself in God’s Word has changed my life. Each book and letter brims with life-giving truth. Through these living words, the Holy Spirit vivifies my sin-soaked self. I am growing!
Our bodies grow through physical nourishment. We grow spiritually through the transformative power of God’s Word. When Christ is in us, if He is in us, His words will yield growth.
As a young believer, I thought personal strength and near perfection in thought, word, and deed were the realities of spiritual maturity. Compared to my messy self, older believers seemed infallible, strong, and sinless. Exactly the opposite was the case.
What is spiritual maturity?
Behind spiritual maturity lie a bone-deep awareness of our utter unworthiness and a clear-eyed view of our besetting sins, never forgetting that only God’s metamorphosis changes us. We know that apart from the Spirit of God, we would still be who we once were, but for Christ.
Maturity entails knowing we cannot save ourselves, and so God must save us. We recognize grace’s effect and the power of God’s mercy. We’re still floored that He would pour these out on us. We exist in an attitude of repentance, aware that Christ is in us and observes everything.
If we think we are indispensable, or any venture will fail if we are not at the helm, or that God’s family is blessed to have us on their side, we probably are not mature.
Spiritual growth is not a self-improvement project. It is Christ in me, His Spirit transforming me as I cooperate and labor with Him in fear and trembling at my own inabilities. God changes me to be more like Christ. He does the work. He gives me both the desire and the ability to change. The process is slow and patience inducing.
God initiates and God completes it. Not me.
Mature believers know that He must increase, and they must decrease.
Confidence in Christ, rather than self-confidence fosters maturity. Yielding up whatever hinders reliance upon Christ, so that we might know Christ intimately and share in the camaraderie of His suffering, produces maturity. Recognizing we will never achieve perfection, yet pressing and straining toward deeper union with Christ cultivates growth.
Knowing we can do none of the above without the Spirit’s empowerment is maturity. The mature feel less mature and more aware of their sinfulness the more mature they become.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it” (Philippians 3:12-13a NIV).
When I see Christ, I will finally be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. But for now, I grow.
1 Timothy 1:12-17, 2 Timothy 1:7-12, and Philippians 2:1-13; 3:3-16 summarize spiritual maturity. This is a short blog post, not a theological treatise, so I invite you to examine those passages. God says it better than I do.
How about you? Are you growing?