How would you feel if someone described you as “immature”?
Most of us would take this as something of an insult – we don’t generally like the implication that we are childish, not fully developed, or not strong enough to handle challenges in our lives.
The spiritually mature have the courage and desire to face the truth about themselves and their lives, instead of running from it. They are motivated on their own to seek God, and they care more about their insides than their outward appearance. Spiritual maturity is something God desires for us:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we 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.Ephesians 4:11-13
How spiritually mature are you? Take a look at these Biblical characteristics to develop more spiritual maturity in your own life:
1. They are motivated to seek God without prompting
Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain,Psalm 43:3-4
to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
Spiritually mature people believe that God is the source of all their joy, and they turn to God without prompting from other people. How much do you need others to push you to pray daily, pray often, or pray more honestly about what you are feeling and thinking? While help from spiritual friends is always something we need, we will stay immature if our relationship with God relies on other people’s convictions more than our own.
2. They are more concerned about the inside than the outside
So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
“Everything they do is done for people to see…”Matthew 23:3-5
The scripture above talks about those who do not practice what they preach; they take the easy road and compromise regularly instead of doing the hard spiritual work of living out their faith. As a result, their entire effort becomes focused on looking good on the outside and desiring people’s attention, instead of desiring to please God.
Spiritually mature people know that if they make the effort to care for their insides (their heart, their emotions, their guilt, their faith) then their outward actions will be right too (Matthew 23:25-26).
3. They search for the truth
Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see again.”Mark 10:51 (God’s Word translation)
Do you want to see the truth? In many areas of our lives it seems easier to be in denial; have you ever wanted to ignore how you really feel about your job, your relationships, your health, or your marriage? We can be passionate about a lot of things but we are not always passionate about wanting to see the truth. Why? Because sometimes it feels stressful to admit the truth, or we feel life is so busy we don’t have time to face difficult truths. But biblically, truth is freeing (John 8:31-32) and we will actually be stronger internally and spiritually when we don’t have to hide what we really think and feel (Psalm 32:1-6).
What truths in your life is God trying to help you face?
4. They admit truth to God
When I finally saw my own lies,Psalm 32:5 (The VOICE translation)
I owned up to my sins before You,
and I did not try to hide my evil deeds from You.
I said to myself, “I’ll admit all my sins to the Eternal,”
and You lifted and carried away the guilt of my sin.
Only God can lift away our guilt and sins. Spiritually mature people understand that no person can relieve our guilt. It is a problem when we would rather go to a person deal with our guilt instead of God. A spiritually mature person also understands that time spent with God is an important time to confess and admit our own sins and lies to God, not just vent our feelings about what might not be going well. When we take responsibility for what we have done wrong, God can lift away the guilt we feel about our choices.
How often do you spend time owning up to your sins and guilt with God?
5. Then admit truth to others
So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life.James 5:16 (The Voice)
After admitting truth to God, spiritually mature people own up to their sins with others. They are not consumed by how they look and how people think of them, nor are they looking for relief from their guilt. Rather, they have the humility to admit their mistakes and understand that they need other people’s help and prayers in order to change.
When was the last time you initiated admitting a sin to a spiritual friend and asking for their help to change?
6. They train themselves daily
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:14
Spiritual maturity takes constant training. Our daily decisions may not seem like a big deal, but they are – every time we decide to hide our real thoughts because we are afraid of the consequences we become a little more immature. Likewise, every time we make a small decision to be honest – even when it hurts – we grow a little more mature. We may not see the effects of our decisions until much later, but the Bible promises that those who constantly work at being righteous and honest will reap the benefits of spiritual maturity.
Make a practical decision that will help train you daily to be honest, like memorizing a scripture about honesty or deciding to have at least one vulnerable conversation about your heart each day with your spouse, roommates or spiritual friends.