Do you act your age? That is do you act your spiritual age? Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:13 said, “be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” This indicates to me that even adult believers can fail to act with the maturity they ought to. There are many other passages that admonish us to act as mature and maturing, growing, strong, and faithful believers in Christ.
- “… until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure and the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13
- “… we are no long to be children, tossed here an there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…” Ephesians 4:14
- “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking…” 1 Corinthians 14:20
And from time to time we find Christians in the first century who were not growing and maturing as they ought to have been. Such were sternly admonished:
- “And I, brethren could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ” 1 Corinthians 3:1.
- “For by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God” Hebrews 5:12
- “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins” 2 Peter 1:9.
In this lesson we want to look at what makes a believer mature and offer some applications along the way.
The Mature Believer and Morality
One of the qualities that is most often associated with believers acting like grownups is that of “moral excellence” (2 Peter 1:5). What is moral excellence? It is the godly qualities of virtue, holiness, or moral courage. It is taking seriously the command to flee evil (2 Timothy 2:22). So, what does that look like?
- The mature Christians will neither lead others into sin, nor condone or turn a blind eye when someone is spiritually self-destructing.
- They will not water down God’s moral standards for any reasons. For example, they will not hide the truth to give unfounded reassurance to those who are in rebellion to God’s word.
- They will not be trying to or encouraging others to ride the line of sin.
- They will neither make fun of God’s standards or the Christians who are seeking and sacrificing to uphold them.
- If you are around a mature believer you will grow stronger, not weaker. You will learn more about God’s word. And per Proverbs 27:17 your standards will be raised. “He who walks with wise men will be wise.”
I like what one writer said on this point. He said, “In other words, no one becomes spiritually or morally confused spending time around a mature Christians, rather, the paths of truth capable of resolving the chaos sin brings, begins to become more and more clarified. The teaching of a puzzling verse becomes clearer. The feeling that I am compromising myself around them or being compromised does not exist” (Dunagan, The Mature Believer).
- When you are spiritually mature you do not depend on others to keep you on the right path.
- The spiritually mature have taken charge of their own spiritual growth and it shows.
The Mature Believer and Bible Study
The biggest reason why the spiritually mature have taken ownership of their own growth and do not compromise the word of God is that they consistently and habitually engage with God’s word.
- They do not stop at their own daily Bible reading or study. They are also prepared for all public Bible studies at the building.
- They know the scriptures and have prepared to give a defense (1 Peter 3:15).
- “They do not believe the excuse that some offer that a Bible topic is too confusing to understand (Ephesians 3:4; Psalm 119:97-105). They do not shy away from topics that are considered “controversial” by some, for a mature believer realized that every Bible topic is controversial to someone in the world” (Dunagan).
- They are not swept up in the latest doctrinal fads or try and be unique by claiming to have the truth on this or that teaching.
- They are clear about what good and evil is. What is right and what is wrong. Hebrews 5:14.
The Mature Believer and Good Works.
- Even though they are busy with life and family, mature believers always have time for worship, Bible study, and helping others. They are simply ready for every good work Titus 3:1.
- Being with other Christians is far more important than all their other interest and hobbies.
- Even on vacation, God comes first and so they plan their trips so where they can worship.
- No one needs to wake a mature Christian up on Sunday morning or tell them to read their Bibles or to pray. They have a hungry appetite for the things of God.
- If you look at their schedule it is evident that God does come first in all things (Matthew 6:33). That they do love God more than family, comfort, work, hobbies, and even their own lives.
- For the aged spiritual soldier, it can be discouraging after having spent their entire Christian lives active and involved to not be able to do what they previously were able to do. This is where we cannot forget those who have gone on before us. Let us determine to spend time with our shut-ins.
The Mature Believer’s Track Record
Like Daniel, the mature Christian’s track record is one of consistency (Daniel 6:10). When you look at the course of their lives it has been going in the same direction, toward God. Friend and foe alike should be able to see that. That was the case with Daniel. His enemies knew he would not put anything before God (Daniel 6:5).
Some people are hot and cold. They go back and forth. Which is not very consistent. Not the mature believer. No one asks the questions, “I wonder if they will show?” or, “Do you think I can count on them?” The mature believer is dependable.