Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Measuring Maturity

Today I picked up a book I wanted to begin reading. Often when beginning a new book, I look at the year it was published. This book was published in 1996. That year struck a chord with me since it was the year I trusted in Christ. 

Then I did the math quickly and realized it was 18 years ago.  Apart from feeling that I am jogging more away from my youthfulness each year, it also showed me that soon I will be approaching decades of discipleship. I say this humbly, knowing that it is God’s grace that has sustained me over the years. 

Now there are many Christians who have been walking with the Lord for many decades, and show tremendous growth over the years. At the same time, there are some who have been Christians for a long time and have grown only a little. And then there are those who become Christians and grow a ton in a short time. 

The interesting thing about maturity in the Bible is that seldom is there a timeframe tied to it. What I mean is that the Bible does not say a person is mature after following Christ a set number of years. Instead, the Bible puts the emphasis in a different direction. Hebrews says this about measuring maturity: 

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish between good and evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity.” (Heb 5:14-6:1b ESV). 

According to that, maturity is measured not by years or lack of them, but by how a person is responding to God’s Word and growing in discernment.  Growing in maturity as a disciple is growing in discernment and character. This is the reason that Timothy was trusted with church leadership at a young age (1 Tim 4:12). 

It is a good practice to do some spiritual self-evaluation at some point and ask a person who knows us well if they can honestly measure our maturity biblically. What do they observe in us that is evidence of growth? Do they sense that we are growing in God’s Word? Do they recognize that we are becoming more discerning? Is character evident?   

Just like it is my fatherly desire to see my small children grow in maturity, it is our heavenly Father’s desire for his children to grow in maturity. 

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation--if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Pet 2:2-3 ESV).