Are you growing in your walk with Christ? If you were the topic of a poll question and 100 people who know you well were asked, “Is he/she a mature believer?”, what percentage would answer “Yes”? What does a mature believer look like? Is spiritual maturity measurable?
I recently read an article by Clint Arch that addressed this subject. I’ve provided a summary of his comments below. Mature believers possess these 5 indicators…
1. An Appetite for Meat
It’s good to enjoy the milk of the gospel with every meal. But some Christians pride themselves on focusing only on the gospel, snubbing the offer of deeper doctrines. The love of doctrine may need to be acquired over time, but it will always be there in a mature believer.
Read and meditate on Hebrew 5.11-14. An infant’s meal needs to go through a blender for the first few months of his or her life. When a normal 21 year old still asks mommy to spoon feed him mashed potatoes, it’s creepy and dysfunctional.
2. An Imperviousness to Personal Offence
It is seldom that a mature believer feels offended. Offence is appropriate at any attack on God’s glory, as when the zeal of God’s house consumed Jesus and he aimed an Indiana Jones whip at the overpriced animals in the Temple’s corrupt commercial zone.
But a mature believer doesn’t take personal offense easily. They understand that when someone sins against them, there are bigger issues at stake than their personal rights; e.g. God’s glory, the attacker’s relationship with God, etc.
Take Paul. When he could no longer draw a crowd (being in jail for the gospel and all) rival preachers were pouring salt on his shackle-blisters by preaching the gospel in competition with him. He didn’t get uppity. Instead he seemed buoyed by the news that the gospel was still getting airtime (Philippians 1.15-18). That’s maturity!
3. A Conscience Informed by Scripture, not Opinions
When you are first saved, it is natural to have a pendulum swing aversion to anything associated with your former way of life. That can be healthy. But as you mature, you will settle into a more balanced view of liberty. If Jesus says something is okay, then you won’t get upset when some Christians take him up on enjoying that freedom (Romans 14.1-3).
The more you grow in your understanding of grace, the less it grates you that people ignore man-made religious norms. You may still choose to abstain, but your conscience is not plagued by the knowledge that others partake in what you avoid.
4. A Sense of Humble Surprise when used by God in Ministry
God uses sinners to do his work for a good reason: there is no one else from which to choose. Some sinners are used mightily. A mature believer will always feel humbled by his effectiveness in God’s ministry. Often, though, the same privilege will inflate an immature believer’s ego (cf. 1 Timothy 3.6).
Paul’s assumption is that a new convert—who is more likely to be immature—when used by God in ministry, will not possess the sense of surprise and humility that is a sign of maturity.
Compare this to Paul’s own attitude that he is the chief of sinners, used only as means to show the extent of God’s mercy (1 Tim. 1:15). He considered himself the unlikely, unsuitable privy pot that was blessed to temporarily house the priceless treasure of God’s gifts (2 Cor. 4:7).
5. Tendency to give Credit for Spiritual Growth to God, not People
Our world is an arena for idolatry. American Idol is the most aptly named and unblushingly honest tribute to our celebrity culture. Our hearts are geared to adulate and adore. An immature believer struggles to break the habit of idolizing people. He merely transfers his adulation of worldly celebrities onto spiritual celebrities.
Whether it’s a pedestal for his pastor, or an inordinate reverence for John Calvin, or whatever the symptom, immaturity fails to give adequate credence to God’s power at work (1 Corinthians 3.4-7).
What are some other signs of spiritual maturity? Help me add to his list by posting your comments below!