It’s been said spiritual maturity is not just what you believe, but evident in how you behave.
But let’s be honest: marrying the two in every situation isn’t always easy.
While we have this side of heaven to learn, grow and discover, if you’re like me in the sense you’re looking to embrace spiritual maturity without despising the growing pains, here are three marks of spiritual maturity to aim for…
1. Dying to offense
Have you ever dealt with someone who lacked the same care you had for an ideal outcome?
Probably multiple times, right? I know when I was younger, anytime I found myself in a similar boat, I would withdraw into discouragement, ignorant to the offense I was taking; however, as I now know, not only is this a recipe for cynicism, it is a contradiction to our call to love at all costs.
Granted, offense is a tricky stronghold. On one hand, it tangles with unmet expectations; on the other, it can linger into perceived indifference.
Still, if everyday presents a temptation to be offended…why not die to our offense in the moments we catch ourselves alive in it?
‘Cause truth is: while we’re all hardwired to passionately pursue people with the passions we pursue, that doesn’t guarantee mutual understanding or aligned priorities. Obviously what matters most to me won’t always matter as much to you or someone else, but this doesn’t mean we have to take it personally.
Rather, whenever we feel others aren’t heeding what we value, let’s consider confronting offense in the moment with the intent to make truth known at the right time (using the in-between time to process, pray, talk to mentors/confidants, etc.)
Bottom line: If we want to mature as believers, let’s start by viewing every day as an opportunity to love heart to heart (accept people as they are) even when we don’t see eye to eye.
2. Praying in detail
If you’re reading this, chances are you know the idiom, ‘the devil is in the details’ is often used to imply an effort that seems simple at first, but takes longer than expected. What you may not know is the phrase actually derives from ‘God is in the details’, expressing the idea whatever one does should be done thoroughly (see 2 Timothy 3:17).
What does this have to do with prayer, you say?
Again, note the origin of the idiom. Sometimes when we pray, it’s based on condition, setting…a criteria of life surrounding us; however, when we pray in the Spirit, we’re praying in detail…we’re praying on terms outside our own. And that, to me, is what prayer is all about: delighting in His nearness and inquiring the specifics of God to better know His will.
Bottom line: Don’t just be intentional in prayer, be aggressive. Have Word exposure (Side note: you can’t mature without it), have a list of requests in front you, have people in mind you can speak out by name, and know what you want to take captive/what you want to take their place. You’ll find the more you pray in detail, the more you’ll discover fresh perspectives you couldn’t have known otherwise.
3. Growing fruit in fullness
If you know me, you know one of my favorite topics centers on an issue I haven’t always been great at: living fully/unconditionally; however, to be fair, this is a life-long tug-and-pull for all of us.
As I’ve been teaching my students the past few months in our ‘Fruits in Fullness’ series, fullness and spiritual maturity go hand in hand. The more we pursue fullness with the spiritual fruit we carry, the more others are able to taste and see that it’s good.
That said, we must understand one of the ways the devil prowls after us, especially in a compartmentalizing world, is conditioning our fruit to be conditional.
Check out Genesis 2:16 (AMP): “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden.”
Note the freely/unconditionally correlation and how this ties into fruit (albeit, the edible kind), God’s original design for man’s function…not to mention our place in Ephesians 3:19: “and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].”
Again, how awesome is it whatever talk about on here…it all comes back to God’s surpassing love and desire for our highest…our best with Him through Him by Him.
Mufasa tingles, anyone? 😉
Bottom line: Staying with the Ephesians theme…
“…until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]. ~ Ephesians 4:13
Cover photos creds: http://julielopes.com/category/spiritual-maturity