Mature or not mature?

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Me and God, Me and people, The Bible, The Church

My wife and I have been talking recently about ‘what does it mean to be a mature Christian?” She is even hinted she would write a blog about it. I wanted to contribute with my thoughts but figured that writing a whole ‘treaty’ on her blog comments section may be a bit … wrong. So, here’s what I think about spiritual maturity:

1. The Greek word. The original word for ‘maturity’ in the new Testament is ‘teleios’ which is also translated ‘finished’, ‘complete’, ‘perfect’ ‘of full age’ and of course, ‘mature’

2. Is it possible? Of all the places in the New Testament where this word is used, there some verses that give us the idea that maturity only will happen when we see Jesus; the absolute and final perfection (about 12 times). Others however, give us the idea that ‘mature’ is something we can be right now –and some already are (about 6 times). Therefore, I would say that ‘maturity’ -the kind we can be while on earth, is not a state but a process, a direction we are moving towards. Perhaps a qualification or set of characteristics of how we are advancing towards that ultimate perfection.

3. What maturity IS NOT. Contrary to what many state, I don’t think Christian maturity is about how much you ‘know’ about the Bible. The author of the book of Hebrews writes: “…and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are mature”. Many take this verse to mean that you are mature if  you know The Bible. However, the Pharisees knew the Old Testament scriptures very well and yet, I don’t think Jesus would call them spiritually mature. After all, 1 Corinthians 8:1 reads: “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies”

4. Examples of maturity. What are those characteristics; what does it mean to be ‘mature’? what does it look like in our lives today? Feel free to look up the following verses that use the same original Greek word ‘teleios’ (‘mature’, ‘complete, etc) in the New Testament and see if you agree with my observations:

Matthew 5:43-48 – If you love your enemies, you will be mature.

Matthew 19:16-22 – If you give up what you love the most, more than God, you will be mature.

Eph 4:12-13
– If you use your gifts God has given you to prepare others for ministry and to edify the body of Christ, you will be mature

Phil 3:7-15
– If you continue on counting everything else worthless compared to Christ -pressing on towards His call in your life, you will be mature

Hebrews 5:12-14 – If you experience the Word of God to the point that by constant practice and doing, you know the difference between what is right and what is wrong, you will be mature.

James 3:2 – Though we all make mistakes, If you can control your tongue and what you say, you will be mature

5. Conclusion: Christian maturity is not about how much “bread we eat” ie. How much you learn or know the Bible. Christian maturity is more about how much you do or apply to your life from what you learn. (‘forgive unconditionally’, ‘don’t think you know it all’, ‘give the thought to the possibility that sometimes you may be wrong’, ‘you don’t always have to get your way’, ‘help others in need’, ‘love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’, ‘tell others about Jesus an salvation by grace’ etc etc).

I don’t want to sound ironic but perhaps Jesus said it batter in John 4:34 when He said:

“”My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. “. 

  1. Angela says:

    well said! Glad I married a smart guy.

  2. […] spiritual growth –as in any other living being, may be that of reproduction; any healthy person grows into maturity and […]

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