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Marks of Maturity

Getting older and being mature are markedly different activities. There is a belief that maturity comes with age, but this is not always the case. In view of the church, the assumption is that if you are older then you must be spiritually mature. This sounds good in theory, but in reality it would mean that I would not be a mature servant of God until I got old. This also carries the thought that if you are young then spiritual maturity is not something that can be grasped. In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit are character qualities that God possesses and that the Holy Spirit imparts to us as we live in trusting obedience to Jesus Christ. It is in this manner that someone can begin the process of maturity in their spiritual lives. Paul mentions love, joy, and peace as three maturity markers in spiritual formation. These three markers describe how the believer is to relate to God and others.

Tina Turner once asked the question “What’s love got to do with it?” I believe Jesus would say “Everything!” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says that without love we are “nothing.” I can be the most talented, Spirit filled, Scripture reading, Bible toting, cross wearing believer, but if I do not love as Jesus commands then all of those activities really do not mean a thing. There really is no other way of explaining this passage. Those who are mature in the faith are able to love others regardless of race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or any other differences. How do you deal with someone who stole from you? How do you talk to someone you know will twist your words and try to use them against you? How do you pray for your enemies? The answer can only be found in love.
The next natural question is “What is the source of this love?” Romans 5:8 states that “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” God loved us so much that He cancelled our sin debt because we could never pay for it ourselves. Since He is the source of everything that points to love then the natural reaction must be to freely give love as it has been given to us.
Joy is a deep sense of well-being that is not dependent upon favorable circumstances, but rooted in a fundamental acceptance of, and confidence in, the will of God. Joy does not come by pursuing joy. Joy comes as a result of pursuing God and the good of others. A spiritually mature person has the ability to experience joy regardless of the situation they are currently facing. You can be on the verge of losing your job and experience joy. You can find out that you have terminal cancer and experience joy. You can be the poorest person in the entire world and experience joy. James 1:2 is a reminder that we are to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” This statement can be only be lived out when one understands that God is in control of all things and because of this confidence they allow God to control their life instead of their situation controlling it.
Peace is the absence of anxiety and the presence of trusting assurance in the promises of God. If we have peace then we realize that the same God who created life in us can be trusted with the details of our life. Matthew 6:25 states “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” This means that worrying about the future hampers our efforts for today. It is impossible to gain peace when your mind is focused on worry. Worrying is more harmful than helpful because it keeps the mind focused on problems instead of praise. Those mature in the faith realize that God does not ignore those who depend on Him. He is a faithful and just Father who only wants what is best for His children. This understanding of God should wipe away any doubt or worry that we have about Him.
Spiritual maturity is more than just a great goal in life; it is required by God (Hebrews 5:12-14). As we become more mature we become better equipped to face this world that is plagued by sin. Many people want to grow spiritually and be mature, but it will not happen by itself. This process will happen only through the work of the Holy Spirit and the individual’s dedication toward following the will of God. This process is an excellent journey that God is eagerly waiting for everyone to begin.
Categories: spiritual formation
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