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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Is Spiritual Maturity?

This week I heard a very little boy say, "I'm a big boy now." This was his assessment of his maturity. He wasn't saying he was as big as his parents in stature. He was saying his abilities matched those who he considered big. It seems that everyone thinks he is mature at every stage of life

We all thought we knew what we were doing when we got married. It takes years before we realize that we didn't. It takes even more years to realize we don't know what we are doing now. Eventually, we accept it as a journey rather than a destination. We are on the road to maturity as long as we know we have a lot farther to go.

Many people think they are spiritually mature because they have been coming to church for a long time. They would say that they know what they are doing when it comes to spiritual matters. They point to their service and their giving. They don't have milestones to pass as they have had in marriage. Church and spirituality run together.

It's amazing when I hear a long-time church member make excuses for their poor decisions. He will say that he sold his expensive horse because he knew others would ride it more than he was. He won't admit that he was foolish in buying the horse and couldn't afford to board and feed him. The church member will say that he would tithe but believes the church wastes the money. He won't admit that he is being disobedient to God. The leadership of the church will have to answer to God on how the money is spent. What makes this amazing is that the long-time church member believes this justifies his actions.

The flesh is always in opposition to the spirit. This is true in each of us. The flesh appeals to the world. The flesh is sexually, emotionally and personally immature. It seeks to fulfill itself without regard to God's desires. It bends any commandment to get its own approval. It ignores any word from God to fulfill what it wants. It makes excuses for its failures.

The spirit listens to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads the person to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. The mature spirit does not do the things that the flesh desires. The mature spirit obeys God. It confesses when it is wrong rather than making excuses. It seeks what God wants and does it even when the flesh is screaming for something else.

None of us have arrived in our spiritual journey but each day we should be traveling toward maturity. We should be making decisions that will deny the flesh so that we can obey the Spirit. Sure, there will be failures along the way but just be closer to being like the Lord Jesus the longer we walk with Him. We are called to be conformed into His likeness. We are to be mature as He is.

I know people who have been married for a long time who are just as childish in their marriages as those who have just married. Generally, it is the wife who is the surrogate mother to her husband. She provides for him and lets him have his way when he pitches a fit. She is able to control him and have relative peace this way. She even enjoys the jokes of how childish men are. She makes sure that she keeps her man this way. She allows him to think he is in control and the leader of the family but she knows better. He struts around without knowing that his actions are childish. This is an immature marriage for the both of them. They will pass this pattern to their children.

This has been true of those in the church. Immaturity has prevailed for a very long time. This pattern has been passed from generation to generation. Mature individuals are rare.

I have a dream of seeing Christians mature. I dream of a mature group of believers who stop giving into the flesh. I dream of examples whom can be seen that will show people what a mature Christian is. I dream of people hungering and thirsting for growth in their spirits. I dream of people who will make spiritual decisions as Jesus did.

Does anyone else have this dream?

Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

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