As parents, we learn to recognize markers of maturity in our children. Eventually we can recognize them in all children. It starts when a baby can sleep for five hours in one stretch, or when they can suddenly hold a bottle or cup, drink from a straw. Later it involves the ability to tie a shoe or learn the ABC’s. All of these things are impressive for a baby, toddler or kindergartner, not so much for a high school student.
Once we submit to Jesus as Lord, maturity markers should sprout in our spiritual walk. Spiritual maturity is not guaranteed any more than learning the ABC’s are learned because a child reaches his fifth birthday.
What is a marker of spiritual maturity? Spiritual markers of growth vary but might include having a problem with profanity, anger, submitting to authority. The list is endless, which is why we need to tune our hearts to hear the Holy Spirit who will identify sin in our lives.
Spiritual growth is like peeling an onion. God doesn’t take off more than we can handle at one time, but He is faithful to continue to peel off the layers of sin, where we miss the mark of His holiness, over the decades of our life. He will continue the process as long as we are alive and breathing.
How are you doing with your spiritual maturity? Are you still drinking the milk that Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 3:2. I fed you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready. In fact, you are still not ready
Can you name any spiritual accomplishments you have achieved in the last year, in the last ten years to give evidence that you are ready for solid spiritual food? Or are you struggling with the same issues that plagued you as a new believer – anger, coveting another’s possessions or feelings of discontent, unwilling to submit to man’s authority or God’s authority, i.e. His Word?
Journaling on paper is no longer fashionable these days, but find a way to journal your struggles or requests. Why?
1) Writing down our struggles or requests frequently turns them into a prayer to the Lord. He is faithful to help when we ask.
2) Review past journal entries. It is encouraging to look back over the years to see how we have changed. Often we do not remember our previous struggles. Reading back is encouraging to push us forward as we see how God has helped us in the past, changed us in certain ways, honing off rough edges that needed to be pruned from our personalities, habits or temperaments.
In closing, we have evidence of people all around us who did not take their education seriously. They cannot reason from point A to point B. It is frustrating, often futile, to try to deal with this crowd who are only driven by emotions; emotions change in a heartbeat.
The same applies for immature believers who continue to struggle over the same issue again and again, much like the picture of a dog chasing its own tail.
Break out the cycle. Lean into the lessons, i.e. pain, He brings to you.
Suffering without learning is merely pain. He wants so much more for you. He wants to bring you to maturity as a child of His. Don’t waste any opportunity to grow. Seek His help to determine where you need to change to break the chains of suffering. Break the chains so that you can grow into the full stature of the believer He created you to be – full of wisdom, full of grace, full of patience, full of Jesus who is the author of all good things.