“By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”Hebrews 5:12-14
It’s true that nobody wants to grow old, but all of us should desire to be mature. Our bodies mature on us, whether we like it or not, but it’s important that we mature spiritually as well. Do you ever think about that? If we could measure spiritual maturity, how would you measure up? We sometimes say of children “he’s big for his age,” meaning his physical statue is larger than his age mates. Could anyone say that about our spiritual statue? Are you big for your spiritual age? Or is your growth stunted? When we recognize that our child is not as mature as he or she should be in some area, we go to a specialist and try to figure out why our child is smaller than she should be, or slower, or less active. Don’t you think we should be equally sensitive to our own spiritual maturity, and recognize areas where we need to “grow up”? Don’t you think its so amazing how some of us even do not bother to check on their spiritual growth and when they do, its once in a blue moon!! We are not concerned at all.
One way to find out how much you’ve grown in our faith walk is to pay attention to what comes out of your mouth – to measure your words. The book of Proverbs has lots of good advice about controlling our tongues, and the bible gives us a clear measure of our maturity: In Proverbs, the bible says: “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:27-28). You need to measure your maturity by checking and always asking yourself whether or not you are restrained in what you say. That simply means you think before you speak; you ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone said that to me?” and thus, you consider whether you need to say it or not. Remember Ephesians 4:29, says to let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouth…, therefore you use words with restraint.
Let me ask: Have you ever become intentional about controlling what you say? Do you ever pray that God will help you to control your tongue? This is one of the most important measures of maturity, because until we learn to control our tongues, we remain in that immature stage, we’re not where we should be, and we need to start growing up.Are we growing up in Christ? Paul addressed this issue of maturity as he wrote to the various churches. In Ephesians 4 he wrote that we should all “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants. . . instead. . . we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:13–15).
Another measure is our motivation. What is it that motivates us to serve Christ? King David gave a strong exhortation to his son, Solomon, who would take the throne after him. We read “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) We can put on a good front and fool others, but we can never fool God. He knows our thoughts and our motives. This is an area that I often think and pray about, because I am well aware that I rarely if ever have totally pure motives. I want to, but tucked way underneath, in my heart of hearts, I often have to admit to pride, wanting the praise of people, doing what I do because it makes me feel good. This is what Paul said: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:15-20)
I have finally come to the conclusion that while on this earth, I’m not likely to ever have completely pure motivation, but as long as I’m aware of it, praying about it, and desiring to serve God out of a pure heart, he will know and understand. And he will reveal my wrong motives and help me to grow up in this area. This is the most important thing in our Christian walk… “keeping in step with the Holy Spirit as He will lead us. (Galatians 5:25) Check it out – why we do what we do; what is our motivation?
We often measure our growth in many areas of our lives, such as skills we’ve acquired, experience we’ve gained, education we’ve acquired, and we’re quick to update our resumes, so to speak, and let the world know how we have grown. But how often do we take time to measure our spiritual maturity and growth? The writer to the Hebrews is warning them about falling away from the faith, and he writes: “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14). This is a real measure of spiritual maturity – whether or not we are eating solid food or we’re still living on milk. What does that mean? It means that if you’re living on milk, you’re still a baby Christian and you’re not growing in your knowledge of God’s word. This is directed to those who have been Christians for awhile, who ought now to be ready to teach others, but instead still need to learn the elementary truths of God’s word.
You can measure your spiritual maturity by how much you really desire to get into the word of God, to know it at deeper and deeper levels.If your Bible is hardly ever opening from one Sunday to another, if you’re not regularly involved in a Bible study of some kind, then you’re still a baby in Christ, and you need to grow up. As I look back over my life, the years I lived in disobedience to God’s principles were the years I almost never opened my Bible. The word of God will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the word of God.
On a scale of one to ten, how would you measure your spiritual maturity? As far as I know, there are no scales for measuring spiritual maturity, but there are biblical mile-markers that can tell us if we are growing up in Christ as we should be. Paul talks about his own growing-up process, saying “I have not already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). Becoming mature in Christ is a process, and we must be intentional about pressing on. Paul then says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me. . .” One thing that you need to know is that you ought to Forget the past achievements so as you can go ahead and pursue new ones. If you busk on the Glory of yesterday, you forfeit more glory that lays ahead!!
Notice that Paul keeps talking about pressing on, never giving up, always striving to be all that God has created him to be in Christ Jesus. I believe one of the sure signs of our spiritual maturity is whether or not we truly press on, to put our past behind us and to go for the goal – the good works God created us to do. The enemy of your soul would love to keep you mired down in your past. If he can saddle you with regrets, with bad memories, with bitterness, with anger – any or all of those as you dwell on your past, then he knows you’ll never grow up.When your past is filled with your own wrong choices and their consequences, or with unfair treatment or abuse of some kind; be assured that living in the past will cripple you and your spiritual growth will be stunted.
The Lord says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19). Dwelling in the past causes us to miss the new things God has for us, and we are then stuck in our deserts and wastelands, never growing into the fullness of what Jesus died to give us. If your past has you mired down, I pray that you will press on, and with God’s help, put that past behind you, so that you can perceive the way that God is making for you.
I have been writing and sending devotions for the last 3 years now and the subscription base has reached over 3000 people. This morning, the blog hit the 50,000 hits mark and if I should sit down and take these two milestones as a great achievement and think that I have attained it, then I am wrong and this will make me miss the mark. Instead, they cause me to stop and think about God’s goodness to allow me this privilege these 3 years to minister to the hearts of people through a simple email. Milestones should also cause us to stop and measure our progress. I’ve been talking about measuring our spiritual maturity, and I can’t help but ask myself at these 2 milestones; have I grown as a Christian over these many years, as I should have?Have I pressed on and learned and grown up in Christ? Or is it that “I am not where I should be after all these years”?
Dear friends, it is so important that we regularly and sincerely take stock of our spiritual progress and make sure we’re doing the things we should be doing so that we are growing up in Christ, not remaining babies, not mired down in the past, not making the same mistakes we’ve always made. Take a minute or two and ask yourself a few questions to measure your spiritual maturity:
- Is your tongue more under control today? Do you think before you speak, choose your words carefully, and just simply stop talking so much?
- Are you motivated to serve Christ out of a pure heart, or is it just to please him, or are you trying to please people and gain their approval?
- Do you love God’s Word more than you used to? Are you spending more time studying it? Is it more and more the true bread of your life? Do you ever memorize some of it?
- Are you allowing your past to keep you from growing up in Christ? Are you living in bitterness or regret, which keeps you from pressing for the good things God has for you?
- And most importantly, are you loving Jesus more and more with each passing day? Do you frequently and fervently thank him for what he has done for you? Does it break your heart to think that you have broken his heart through disobedience?
I urge you to measure your maturity; ask God to show you where your growth is stunted, and then do the things you need to do to grow up in Christ. That is where the abundant life is; that is where you will regain the joy of your salvation and know the peace that passes understanding. Finally, Peter urges us in 2 Peter 1:5-9 and says “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins”