People have many opinions regarding what maturity is and isn’t. “He is so immature.” “I can’t believe she’s acting that way; how immature.” “My kid is extremely mature for their age.” “I’ve been told I’m mature for my age.” There are so many different opinions of maturity. Some define it in regards to emotions, some look at the physical body, and some look first to the mind. Listening to all of the different opinions regarding what maturity is and isn’t has made me curious. Since I want to gauge everything in my life according to Scripture, I set out to know from a Biblical perspective how one is to evaluate maturity. How do we gauge maturity? Are we mature once we reach a certain age? Do we gauge our own maturity based on others lack of maturity? Should we feel accomplished once we reach certain “pinnacles” of maturity? Does being a mature christian mean that we are 80 years old with a lifetime of church attendance under our belt? What in the world is maturity?
As I turned to Scripture, I found many different definitions of maturity, but what connects them all seems to be the following: depth of spiritual insight, teachability (humility), wisdom, knowing the things of God and holding fast to them in all areas of life. Ephesians 4:13 defines maturity as unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. 1 Corinthians 14:20 calls us to not think childishly, but to be mature. Dwelling on the things of God and pursuing Him while throwing off all that distracts leads to wise thinking and ultimately to maturity. It is a process. Colossians 1:9-10 calls believers to bear fruit in every good work; increasing in the knowledge of God and spiritual wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 4:14 makes a point that I love; that one must be grounded in theology and know what they believe in order to be mature; not being able to be blown around by any doctrine thrown their way. Romans 5:4 says that endurance develops maturity of character, which then produces joy.
Maturity is not simply head-knowledge. It is the application of that knowledge into EVERY area of life; allowing the knowledge to permeate and transform your inmost being.
How, then, do we pursue maturity? The pursuit of spiritual maturity is encouraged both personally and corporately. We personally can encourage our own growth through taking intentional action towards pursuing wisdom and allowing God to continually have more and more of us as we surrender our wills to His. There is a underlying assumption of teachability and humility that one must have in order to grow. As we well know, though, surrendering one’s will is not for the faint of heart.
Corporately, we are called to walk alongside of other believers; encouraging them in their walks and challenging them when they struggle and sin. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 calls believes to encourage and build each other up. Galatians 1:6 calls the believer to help their brother who is in sin by gently restoring them. Galatians 6:2 calls us also to bear each others burdens. We are in the fight for maturity personally, yes, but also as a group of believers. We do not have to become discouraged when facing hard times of growth, hardship or sin alone. That is the beautiful thing about the Christian community.
The external evidence that one is on this road to maturity is found in Galatians 5:22-23, which contains the list of the Fruit of the Spirit. It is easy to view this list as literally fruit; as a kids song from sunday school. It is so much more than that. The fruit or “evidences of the Holy Spirits work in one’s life” directly relates to the issue of spiritual maturity because the only way of growing in spiritual maturity is by allowing the Holy Spirit to have more and more access to your mind, will, emotions and actions. Through continually surrendering yourself to the Holy Spirit, the fruit will evidence themselves in your life.
We must keep in mind that spiritual maturity can be hindered. Biblically this happens when we allow our minds and wills to become clouded by worldliness and allow our sinful natures to win spiritual battles. Brothers and sisters, spiritual battles are called battles because they literally wage war on every part of our being. We have to fight to win them; with body, mind and soul. Colossians 2:18 actually says that when one’s mind is unspiritual, it is a dangerous place. Spiritual maturity gets hindered largely when we allow our minds to wonder and not be captive to the Lord. Romans 1:28 also says that if we do not retain the knowledge of the Lord, we will develop a depraved mind. I believe that our minds are a central part of our maturity; from our thoughts and mindsets, it is clear in Scripture that all else flows. If we do not keep our minds in check spiritually, our spiritual maturity will not only be hindered, but it will digress. If we do not move forward, we move backwards. There is no such thing as remaining the same.
Let’s run this race as if to win the prize; throwing off sin that so easily entangles. It’s time to stop simply knowing something must change. Let’s all grow up and fight for the pursuit of maturity.