The Lord is raising the bar among us to make disciples who advance God’s Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4:1-3, urges his readers to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
This challenge leads us to two questions:
1) Are we living lives worthy of the ‘calling we have received’?
2) What indicators reveal progress toward spiritual maturity?
What follows are four of ten of what I consider indications of growing spiritual maturity.
1. Having a deep passion to know God and follow His Word in our lives.
A mature disciple seeks to be intimate with God and to do what He says in His Word. The mature disciple pursues intimacy with our Heavenly Father. We are desperate to know Him, His nature and His ways.
Do we pursue God as David did in Psalm 42:1-2, as a ‘deer pants for water’?
Intimacy is the key to obedience. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” Is our love for Jesus sufficient that we would want to obey Him? Are we putting Jesus commandments into practice? Or, are we selective in our obedience? Spiritual maturity is when loving God and being obedient becomes a lifestyle that we pursue with all our hearts.
2. Brokenness and Humility.
“Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.” Jacob wrestled with God and from that point in life walked with a limp. Jacob had been clever in his younger days. On the road to maturity God must break us of cleverness, pride, ambition, and self-centeredness.
Do we evidence the brokenness of God? Remember, “What God takes, He breaks; what He breaks, He moulds; and what He moulds, He uses.”
In Psalm 51:17 we are reminded, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” To whom much is given, much is required. The higher the calling, the more God needs to refine us so we will reflect and can reflect His nature, which is humble and gentle.
3. Perseverance and Hope.
In Romans 5 we are reminded of God’s pattern for spiritual maturity. “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Thirty-one years ago, God gave me a prophetic word, based on based on Jeremiah 42, that I will never forget, “If you leave the scene of your trials, what you have feared most will follow you and consume you. But if you stand in obedience to My Word; in due time I will lift you up and place you in the land where you belong. Stand and see my deliverance.”
It’s amazing the trials you can withstand if you believe there’s going to be a positive outcome.
Spiritual maturity is being able to process our trials from the perspective of Romans 8:28, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Mature Christians live in hope, confident that perseverance will always bring a redemptive outcome.
4. Evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit in our Lives
The spiritually mature evidence the fruit of the Spirit, while the acts of the sinful nature will decrease. God is a fruit inspector. He looks for the fruit of the Spirit’s work in our hearts.
This is most evident in the words we speak. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Do our words reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?”
In every situation we can ask, “What spirit am I partnering with? The Holy Spirit or the sinful nature?”
As you consider these four indicators of spiritual maturity, remember 2 Peter 1:8, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Lord is raising the bar among Christians in the church and marketplace. In the next newsletter I will reflect on more indicators of spiritual maturity. Growing in the character Christ is crucial to having longevity and fruitfulness in our God-given assignments.
John McElroy, ACAL Convenor / www.acaleaders.org