Progressing Toward Spiritual Maturity
When we speak "the truth in love," we are growing in Christ.
We read in Isaiah 44:4 that God's people will "spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses." Our Christian walk should be a walk that desires to be pleasing to God first and foremost. When this happens, then we will see growth and maturity take hold in our life here on earth. Every one of us should have a constant desire to progress toward spiritual maturity in all aspects of our life. There are several areas in our life that God wants to see us mature and develop in. These are:
1) Fruitfulness: "Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness" (2 Corinthians 9:10). God asks that we share His word with others. This is something that should be on all of our hearts. We should look for opportunities to share the good news to those we come in contact with.
2) In Christ: "but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). In order for us to mature in Christ we must learn what a good work is (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17). When we speak "the truth in love," we are growing in Christ because we are speaking His truth and we are doing it in love, caring for the soul of another.
3) In Love: "And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you" (1 Thessalonians 3:12). "But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more" (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). The true Christian test of life is whether one can show a genuine love for the brethren. For us to be able to mature in the sight of God, this is something that all of us must possess. As Paul stated, it is also an area in which we need to continue to increase. There is nothing that takes the place of loving and caring brethren who genuinely look forward to seeing and being with each other at every opportunity. May we all grow in our love for one another!
4) Unto Perfection: "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God" (Hebrews 6:1). The word "perfection" means "completeness." Once we have learned the truth of God's word and have been obedient to the gospel, we should then progress onward to maturity, not returning to the basic elements again. We need to learn to be teachers (Hebrews 5:12-14), and the only way to do this is through the word, having a desire for God's word in order to grow to completeness. Peter writes, "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). When we are "perfect" or "complete," then we will never stumble (2 Peter 1:10). In order to progress to this point we must strive to put all the characteristics mentioned by Peter to use in our life. We must add " virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter 1:5-7).
5) Grace and Knowledge: "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). When we learn and understand the great gift that God gave us in His Son, then we should be motivated to grow in the knowledge of our Lord. The more we know, the better we can defend the gospel and spread the gospel. Jesus wants us to know Him as He said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). We need to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord.
In conclusion, our spiritual maturity will be realized when we put away childish things from our life (1 Corinthians 13:11) and begin to cultivate an understanding of the word (1 Corinthians 14:20). If we will follow the example of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13, 15; Philippians 3:15), and partake of the deeper truths of the gospel (Hebrews 5:14), then we will be able to overcome any temptation that is cast our way (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 2:14). When this happens, then it will be obvious that we are pressing toward maturity in our Christian life. It may then be said of us: "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).