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Moving Toward Maturity

How “grown up” are you as a Christian? Each member of the body of Christ is called to encourage one another toward maturity in Christ, that his name may be glorified and his church strengthened.

He flung open the door and eagerly took my message to his mother, who couldn’t come to the door at the time. As I left the house with a chuckle, I reflected on just how “grown up” he had acted in greeting me. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Each of us can recall times in our own experience when we made a step toward “growing up.” Our first car, our first job, the making of a marriage and family, and buying a home are all steps many of us make toward maturity. Even though our specific circumstances may differ from others around us, we share many of these things in common.
 
As Christians, we are to move toward maturity in faith just as surely as we move toward maturity in adulthood. It’s easy to see progress toward adulthood in children. The toddler learns to walk and talk, then to run and speak with more and more agility and expression. Clothing sizes continually change. Children learn “letters and numbers,” people skills and social customs as they mature.
 
These are all signs that a child is “growing up.” What are the signs of moving toward maturity as a Christian? The Bible offers us several steps to consider.

“… let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity …”—Hebrews 6:1
 
First, a maturing Christian allows the Word of God to produce change and bear fruit in his or her life. Jesus urged his disciples to allow the Word of God to be so deeply planted in their lives that it would overcome the cares of living and bear fruit (Lk 8:14-15).

Second, a maturing Christian learns the lessons taught by the Holy Spirit. Rather than depending on the world’s definition of learning, self-confidence or ability, a maturing Christian welcomes the Holy Spirit’s teachings and revelation of God’s wisdom (1 Cor 2:6-12).

Third, a maturing Christian recognizes that becoming more like Christ is the pattern for living each day. The Christian life is a journey toward Christ’s likeness, walked only in submission and surrender to his will (Phil <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />3:12-16).

Fourth, a maturing Christian displays an increasing ability and desire to encourage and lead others toward growth in Christ. Have you ever watched children play together? Most times, a “ringleader” encourages the other children to play a new game or do something different. It’s not always teaching ability that demonstrates maturity in faithfulness. Many times the “encouraging” Christian is the first influence a person has of the Gospel. The point is, a maturing Christian desires to touch others for Christ, and lives the truths of the Gospel daily (Heb 5:12-14).

Finally, a maturing Christian doesn’t let life’s circumstances determine God’s faithfulness. Whatever a mature Christian faces, he or she understands God is ever present (Jas 1:2-5).
 
So, how “grown up” are you as a Christian? Each member of the body of Christ is called to encourage one another toward maturity in Christ, that his name may be glorified and his church strengthened.
 
Lynn Traylor is pastor of Westport Baptist Church in Westport, Ky.